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Author of 










Historians prepare themselves for their tasks by much read- 
ing and by the study of great events that have marked the 
progress of the world's activities; writers of Philosophy 
deduce from the wisdom of the ages certain systems or theories; 
the Poets of the world drift idly on until the Muses bestow 
their rhythmic inspiration. 

The author of this volume acquired his preparation when he 
himself was a maker of history. The facts told here are not 
compiled from other men's records, but are released from an 
unfading gallery of mental pictures made at a time when young 
life was most impressionable and the flash-light of events most 

His philosophy, which has unconsciously woven itself into 
every thought and written page, was born of a sympathetic 
knowledge of human needs, activities and frailties gathered 
through a lifetime of loving his fellow men. 

The prose-poetry of his style needed the help of no mythical 
Muse. It was his inheritance, as it has been his life, to drink 
deeply at the spiritual fountain that constantly freshened his 
very soul with rhythm and song. And he of all men could 
never lose the swing and cadence that came into life between 
the years of eighteen and twenty-one with the throb and the 
roll of the drum that, for the upholding of the great principle 
of life, led him to possible death. 

This slender volume is offered to all who have fought in the 
wars of the world, that its vivid pictures may call to memory 
the terrible though splendid past. To all who have fought, or 
are fighting, the personal battles of life, that its sweet philos- 
ophy may help win them the final struggle. To all who sorrow, 
that its good cheer may make it possible for them to sing a new 
song and to know that the final beat of the Drums must be a 
joyous note of "Peace on earth and good will to men.'* 









VII COMRADES ........ 72 










XVII THE LOST FORT . . . .197 




I WAS eighteen years old that thirtieth of July. 
I was lying in the shade of a cherry-tree, and at a 
window near by my mother was sewing. She sang 
as she sewed, in a sweet fashion that women have, 
singing, rocking, thinking, dreaming; the swaying 
sewing-chair weaving all these occupations to- 
gether in a reverie-pattern that is half real, half 
vision. She was singing sweet old songs that I 
had heard her sing ever since I was a baby, songs 
of love, and home, and peace ; a song of the robin, 
and the carrier dove, and one little French song of 
which I was very fond, Jeannette and Jeannot. 
It was a French girl singing to her lover who had 



been conscripted, and was bidding her good-by as 
he went away to join his regiment. The last stanza 
lingers in my memory : 

"Oh, if I were king of France, or, still better, Pope 

of Rome, 
I'd have no fighting men abroad, no weeping maids 

at home ; 
All the world should be at peace, and if kings would 

show their might, 
I'd have them that make the quarrels be the only 

ones to fight." 

Sixty years ago I first heard my mother sing that 
simple little song, and I have never, in all the coun- 
cils of the Wise and the Great, heard a better solu- 
tion of the problem of peace and war. Put a cor- 
poral on the throne, send the soldiers to Parliament 
and Congress, and the legislators and kings to war, 
and battles would automatically cease throughout 
all the world. It seems to me it has been a long 
time since a king was hurt in a fight. Nobody 
wears so many brilliant uniforms and such a medley 
of decorations as a monarch. And nobody keeps 
farther away from the firing line. 


When the First Gun Sounded 

It was such a quiet, dreamy, peaceful July after- 
noon. There was the sound of a gentle wind in the 
top of the cherry-tree, softly carrying an eolian 
accompaniment to my mother's singing. Once a 
robin called. A bush of "old-fashioned roses" per- 
fumed the breath of the song. A cricket chirped in 
the grass. 

Boom! A siege-gun fired away off down in 
Charleston, and a shell burst above Fort Sumter, 
wreathing an angry halo about the most beautiful 
flag the sunshine ever kissed. From ocean to ocean 
the land quivered as with the shock of an earth- 
quake. Far away, from the ramparts of Sumter, a 
bugle shrilled across the states as though it were 
the voice of the trumpet of the angel calling the 
sheeted dead to rise. And close at hand the flam, 
flam, flam of a drum broke into wild thrill of the 
long roll, the fierce narl of the dogs of war, 
awakened by that signal shot from Beauregard's 

I leaped to my feet, seized my cap and ran to 


the window to wind my arms around my mother's 

"Mother," I said, "I'm going!" 

Her beautiful face turned white. She held me 
close to her heart a long, silent, praying time. 
Then she held me off and kissed me a kiss so ten- 
der that it rests upon my lips to-day and said : 

"God bless my boy!" 

And with my mother's blessing I hurried down to 
the recruiting station, and soon I marched away 
with a column of men and boys, still keeping step 
to the drum. 

But in the long years when the drum and bugle 
made my only music, often I could hear the sob, sob 
that broke from her heart when she bade me good- 
by, mingling with the harsh flam, flam of the drum 
that led me from her side. And at other times, when 
the bugles sang high and clear, sounding the charge 
above the roar and crash of musketry and batteries, 
even then, sometimes, I could hear "Jeannette" still 
softly singing, "All the world should be at peace." 
When the storm of battle-passions lulled a little at 



times, there would come stealing into the drifting 
clouds of acrid powder-smoke sweet strains of the 
old songs, the tender, old-fashioned melodies about 
home, and love, and peace, and the robin, and the 

I could see the window where she sat and sewed 
and sang on my birthday. I knew the song, and I 
could see how gently she rocked, and could hear how 
soft and low the voice fell at times. I knew that 
once in a while the sewing would fall from her 
hands, and they would lie clasped in her lap, while 
the song ceased as it turned into a prayer. And I 
knew for whom she was praying. 

All the way from Peoria to Corinth, from Corinth 
to Vicksburg, up the Red River country, down to 
Mobile and Fort Blakely, and back to Tupelo and 
Selma, the voice and the song and the prayer fol- 
lowed me, and at last led me back home. 

I learned then, though I did not know it nearly 
so well as I do now, that there is no place on earth 
where a boy can get so far away from his mother 
that her song and her prayer and her love will not 



folTow^Kim. There is only one love that will follow 
him farther ; that has sweeter patience to seek him ; 
that has surer wisdom to find him ; that is mightier 
to save him and bring him back to home, and love 
and peace. What a Love that is which will endure 
longer and suffer more and do more than hers! 
What a love! 

I once heard a man say, he had never been a 
soldier, "If a woman is ever given the ballot, like 
a man, she should be compelled to shoulder a musket 
and go to war, like the men." 

Such a foolish, cowardly, brutal thing to say! 
Sometimes the government has to conscript men to 
make them fight for their country. When has 
woman ever shrunk from going to war? "She 
risked her life when the soldier was born." She 
wound her arms around him through all the years 
of his helplessness. Night after night, when fell 
disease fought for the little soldier's tender life, 
she robbed her aching eyes of sleep, a faithful senti- 
nel over his cradle. She nourished him on her 
own life, a fountain drawn from her mother-breasts. 



She stood guard over him, keeping all the house 
quiet when he would sleep in the noisy daytime. She 
stood on the firing line, battling with the foes of 
uncleanness, contagion, sudden heat and biting 
cold, protecting her little soldier in the clean sweet 
fortress of his home. She taught him his first 
cooing words that some day he might have a mighty 
voice and brave words of defiance to shout against 
his country's foes. She taught him his first step 
such a wavering, uncertain little step that some 
day he could keep step to the drum-beat and march 
with the men a free swinging stride as they fol- 
lowed the flag. She trained him up to be a manly 
man, to hate a lie and despise a mean action, to be 
noble and chivalrous. She builded a strong man 
out of her woman's soul. 

The Woman's Harvest 

And then one day, when the bugles shrilled and 
the drum beat, she kissed him and sent him forth 
at the wheels of the guns her beautiful boy to be 
food for the fire-breathing maw of the black-lipped 



cannon ! Her boy ! Heart of her heart ! Life of 
her life ! Love of her soul ! 

The exultant news flashes over the wires. "Glori- 
ous victory," shout the papers in crimson head- 
lines, "ten thousand killed!" 

And in the long list there is only one name she 
can read. It stands out black as a pall upon the 
white paper characters of night against the morn- 
ing sunshine the name she gave her first-born. 

And that is the end of it all. All the years of 
tender nursing ; of tireless care ; of patient training ; 
of loving teaching; of sweet companionship; and 
of all the little walks and talks; the tender confi- 
dences of mother and son; the budding days; the 
blossoming years this is the harvest. This is war. 

When was there a generation since boys were 
born that women did not go to war? Never a bay- 
onet lunged into the breast of the soldier that 
had not already cooled its hot wrath in the heart of 
a mother. While the soldier has fought through 
one battle, the mother has wandered over a score 
of slaughter fields, looking for his mangled body. 



He sings and plays, the rough games of out-of-door 
men, in camp for a month, and then goes out to 
fight one skirmish. But every day and night of the 
thirty the mother has waked through a hundred 
alarms that never were. She has watched on the 
lonely picket post. She has paced the sentry beat 
before his tent. She has prayed beside him while he 
slept. The throbs of her heart have been the beads 
of her rosary. 

What does a soldier know about war? 

I went into the army a light-hearted boy, with a 
face as smooth as a girl's and hair as brown as my 
beautiful mother's. I fought through more than a 
score of battles and romped through more than a 
hundred frolics. I had the rollicking time of my 
life and came home stronger than an athlete, with 
robust health builded to last the rest of my life. 
And my mother, her brown hair silvered with the 
days of my soldiering, held me in her arms and 
counted the years of her longing and watching with 
kisses. When she lifted her dear face I saw the 
story of my marches and battles written there in 



lines of anguish. If a mother should write her 
story of the war, she would pluck a white hair from 
her temple, and dip the living stylus into the chalice 
of her tears, to write the diary of the days upon her 

What does a soldier know about war? 

"Five Feet Three" 

When I went into the recruiting office, two 
lieutenants of the Forty-seventh Illinois Regiment, 
Samuel A. L. Law of C Company and Frank Biser 
of B, looked at me without the slightest emotion of 
interest. When I told them what I wanted, they 
smiled, and Lieutenant Biser shook his head. But 
Lieutenant Law spoke encouragingly, and pointed 
to the standard of military height, a pine stick 
standing out from the wall in rigid uncompromis- 
ing insistence, five feet three inches from the floor. 
As I walked toward it I could see it slide up, until 
it seemed to lift itself seven feet above my ambi- 
tious head. If I could have kept up the stretching 
strain I put on every longitudinal muscle in my 


body in that minute of fate, I would have been as 
tall as Abraham Lincoln by the close of the war. 
As it was, when I stepped under that Rhada- 
manthine rod, I felt my scalp-lock, which was very 
likely standing on end with apprehension, brush 
lightly against it. The officers laughed, and one of 
them dictated to the sergeant-clerk: 

"Five feet three." 

My heart beat calmly once more, and I shrank 
back to my normal five feet two and seven-eighths 
plus. That was nearly fifty years ago, and taking 
all the thought I could to add to my stature, I have 
only passed that tantalizing standard an inch and 
a half. I received certain instructions concerning 
my reporting at the office daily, and as I passed out 
I heard the sergeant say, "That child will serve 
most of his time in the hospital." And in three 
years' service I never saw the inside of a hospital 
save on such occasions as I was detailed to nurse the 
grown men ; I never lost one day off duty on ac- 
count of sickness. There were times when I was so 
idead tired, and worn out, and faint with hunger, 



that my legs wabbled as I walked, and my eyes 
were so dry and hot with lack of sleep, that I would 
have given a month's pay for floor space in Ander- 
son ville prison. But whenever I turned my eyes 
longingly toward the roadside, passing a good place 
to "drop out," I could hear that big sergeant's pity- 
ing sneer, and I braced up and offered to carry 
my file-leader's knapsack for a mile or two. 

Sometimes, my boy, the best encouragement in 
the world is a little timely disparagement. As a 
rule, I am very apt to pat aspiring youth on the 
back, and "root and boost" with both lungs. But 
once in a while a good savage kick on the shins, 
given with all the fierceness of true friendship, puts 
the spring in a man's heels and the ginger in his 
punch to beat all the petting in the nursery. 



I JOINED my regiment at Corinth, Mississippi. 
I never dreamed, when first I looked upon it in the 
field, how proud I was going to be of it. It was 
only another of the disillusions that illumined the 
understanding of the recruit, and showed him the 
difference between tinsel and gold. It taught me the 
distinction between dress parade and a skirmish 
line. For the regiment had fought at luka, and 
then marched day and night to reach Corinth in 
time to meet Generals Price and Van Dorn for a 
three-days' try-out. It was forced marching, and 
the barber, the manicure, hairdresser, and chiropo- 
dist had been left behind with the pastry cook 
back in Illinois. My regiment! In my dreams it 
had always looked like a replica of the Old Guard 
at Marengo. Now it looked more like the retreat 
from Moscow. Save that it never retreated. 

Uniforms grimed with the dust of the summer 


roads and the rains and mud of the spring cam- 
paigns. Some of the soldiers wore military caps, 
but none so new and bright and blue and bebraided 
as my own. Hats were largely the wear. The 
army hat of "the sixties." A thing fearful and 
wonderful when it was new, with a cord that was 
strong enough to bind an enemy hand and foot, 
and terminating in tassels big enough and hard 
enough to brain him. One side looped up with a 
brass eagle, not quite life-size. The inflexible mate- 
rial of the hat made it break where the side was 
turned up. The crown was high and the brim was 
flat, the general effect being a cone with a cornice. 
Sometimes the soldier creased a pleat in the top, 
that it might resemble the Burnside hat, by which 
name, indeed, I think it was called. This broke 
it in two, and let in the rain. 

Well, my comrades had marched in this grotesque 
head-gear in the dust and in the rain. They had 
fought in it. They had slept in it. They had used 
it for a pillow in the resting halts on the march. On 
occasions they had carried water in it. One warrior 



told me he had boiled eggs in his. But you can't 
tell. You may guess what it looked like when I 
first saw it. I can't. I saw it, and I couldn't re- 
call anything I had ever seen in my life that it 
faintly resembled. 

The most comfortable way of wearing the trou- 
sers on march was by tucking them into the legs 
of the army sock. Oh, yes ; plenty of room. A man 
could put both legs into one army sock of the six- 
ties. I never tried slipping one over an expanded 
umbrella. But that was only because there was no 
umbrella. Wearing the sock over the legs of the 
trousers was the best, and save in the new days of 
the sock, the only way to hold it up. The sock was 
made by machinery. In one straight tube, I think, 
and then pressed into sockly shape. This lasted 
until they were washed the first time. Then the 
article reverted to type, and became the knitted tube 
from which it had evoluted. 

Recollections of the Old Army Shoe 

The shoes were not dancing pumps. But of all 


the things that ever went on a man's pedals, the old 
army shoe was the easiest, the most comfortable and 
comforting thing that ever caressed a tired foot. 
I think among half a hundred recruits with whom I 
went to the regiment there were at least twenty- 
five pairs of leg boots ; well-fitting boots ; made by 
good shoemakers at home, and costing good money. 
After the first long march possibly half a dozen 
pairs survived intact. 

And they lasted only until we could draw the 
government common-sense shoe. Affection could 
not make that shoe beautiful. But prejudice could 
not make it uncomfortable. If you put it on side- 
wise, it would not "run over." Its process of 
wearing out was peculiar. A few days before disso- 
lution the shoe displayed symptoms of easy uneasi- 
ness. It flattened out a little more across the toes, 
which was impossible. Always easy, from the first 
Iday it was worn, it grew easier day by day until it 
suddenly became luxurious to effeminacy. Then, on 
a long muddy hill-climb of Mississippi clay, the 
sole pulled off back to the heel, the upper spread 



itself like a tanned bat, and the shoe was gone. 
That was all. The soldier swore his astonishment 
and disgust, girdled his shoe with strings, and wore 
it sandal fashion until he could draw a new pair 
from the quartermaster, or procure a pair from one 
of the many sources of supply which were an open 
mystery to the quartermaster's department and 
matters of profound surprise to the innocent sol- 
dier, grieved at being wrongfully accused of "con- 

My dusty, war-worn, weather-beaten, battle- 
stained regiment ! About four hundred men. Was 
this war ? Were these "soldiers" ? 

Then I watched the companies march out to dress 
parade. It wasn't drill-room marching, and there 
was no music to time their steps. But it was the 
perfection of walking. The men swung along with 
a free stride learned by natural methods in muddy 
roads, on dusty turnpikes, on steep and winding 
trails that climbed from the plain to the hill-top. 
They kept step without knowing it. They marched 
the best way because it was the easiest way. Then 



the line of the parade. From company to company 
officers and sergeants barked a few terse orders ; a 
little shuffling of feet, and the line stood petrified 
at attention. 

Just to be a Recruit! 

An engineer couldn't have altered it to its better- 
ment. Then the adjutant barked "Front!" and 
the parade was formed. Square shoulders, full 
chests, breathing deep, and slow, and regular as a 
race-horse ; easy poise of body, hands resting on the 
ordered muskets lightly as they would hold a watch 
or a pencil, yet so firmly that when the command, 
" 'Der hmm !" came, every piece swung to a 
"shoulder" like the movement of a machine. 
Through the old-fashioned manual of arms, unin- 
telligible to the soldier of 1914, even as was the 
"Scott manual" to the men drilled in "Hardee," 
there was the same precision of movement ; the click 
of the hands in one time and two motions, varied by 
the order, as the piece moved from the old to the 
new position, or fell with a simultaneous thump on 



the turf to the "order." If a man came through 
out of time, the discord was heard the entire length 
of the line, and the eyes of the colonel went to the 
face of the laggard like bullets, while the nearest 
sergeant growled sweetly through his mustache at 
the culprit. Mustaches were worn in the army of 
the sixties ; every face had one. Not an eye in the 
line looked toward another man for a lead. Every 
eye straight to the front, and every man save the 
nervous recruits knowing just as well as the colonel 
the order of the manual on parade. 

The "troop, beat off"; the band marched down 
the line to slow music, and countermarched back at 
quick time Rocky Road to Dublin, The Girl 
I Left Behind Me, or the everywhere popular 
Garry Owen, or some lively air to which the regi- 
ment had words of its own, The Death of My Poor 
Children being a favorite of ours. The first ser- 
geants took command of their respective companies 
and marched them back to quarters, and my heart 
thrilled to watch them, while I wondered, as I vainly 
tried to imitate them, if I would ever learn to walk 



like that! Now, the uniforms seemed to fit like 
dress suits; the hats were jaunty as the caps; the 
accouterments were ornaments; every joint in the 
soldier's body was "ball-bearing," play of the 
hips, swinging arm, the heel-and-toe walk, twenty- 
miles-a-day gait, all the dancing schools in Amer- 
ica couldn't put the ease and grace into that sol- 
dier's poise and movement that months of marching 
had done. How proud I was just to be a recruit 
in such a regiment! 

A greyhound looks prettier than a bulldog. 
That's because it's built for running. But a bull- 
dog is built for fighting. That's why you always 
turn to look at a bulldog when you pass him in the 
street. As you turn to look you smile at a stranger 
who has turned at the same time. The stranger 
nods his head. You are both thinking the same 
thing. That's the way you feel when, after wit- 
nessing a prize drill of the East Haddam Invin- 
cibles, uniform dark and sky-blue, picked out with 
white ; gold stripes down the trousers ; frogs across 
the breast of the coat ; red, white and blue plumes 


in the caps ; white gloves ; buttons by the gross ; 
patent leather knapsacks quite as large as a bon- 
bon box, you suddenly meet a regiment coming back 
from the war. It's like coming out of a heated 
stuffy ballroom, sickly with perfume, to feel the 
keen north wind of November blow into your face 
with the breath of a new life strong, exultant, 

The Drums of the Forty-Seventh 

We had a brass band when we went to war. But 
when the regiment got to the front it traded the 
brass band for a fife and drum corps. Because the 
regiment is a fighting machine. Doesn't the band 
go into battle? Sure. Not to nerve our fighting 
courage with spirit-stirring strains of stormy music. 
The musicians tied simple bandages of white or red 
around the left arm, and reported to the surgeon 
for duty. They sought out the wounded and car- 
ried them back to the field hospital, sheltered behind 
some merciful hill, under the tender shadow of a 
clump of trees. They found the dead, and carried 


the poor sacrifices to the rear to lay them in silent 
ranks for their last bivouac. 

Some of their human burdens wore the uniform 
we loved. And some of them were clad in the gray 
against which we fought. But the blood-stains, like 
cleansing fountains, washed out all hate and malice. 
War rages over the embattled field, a storm of pas- 
sion. Under the trees in the rear of the fighting 
lines, when bullet and bayonet and shell have 
wrought their hurt, soft Pity moves, a ministering 
angel of God's sweet compassion. Her healing 
hand touches with equal tenderness the wounds of 
friend and foe. And we were friends. We were 
brethren a little while estranged. And Love is 
strong as death and stronger than hate. And truth 
outlasts all misunderstanding. 

We had a "fighting band." Our musicians un- 
slung their drums when the last mile was growing 
longer than a league, and carried us into camp with 
Jaybird, Jaybird, shouting fresh. In the morn- 
ing it played us out of camp with Garry Owen. 
And when the skirmishers deployed, the musicians 


piled their drums back near the baggage and 
lightly trotted in open formation close up to the 
firing line, with extra canteens and ready stretch- 
ers and emergency bandages, and much cheery 
chaff. These preparations looked chillingly in ear- 
nest. For it was always very dangerous to go into 
battle, especially, as one irreverent private remarked 
as he looked around on the unsheltered plain, "Hard 
lines for us, boys; there aren't half enough trees 
for the officers!" One of our drummers the 
youngest was a tonic for a faint heart. Johnny 
Grove ; he could drum to beat a hail-storm on a tin 
roof, and he had a heart full of merriment and a 
tongue as ready as a firecracker. Death came very 
near to him many times, but he always laughed 
when he heard the boy, and passed on, and Johnny 
still lived with a heart as mellow as then it was 
light, until a few years ago. 

The drums of the Forty-seventh they time a 
quicker throb to my old heart now, when I think I 
hear them again, on a rough road and a steep grade. 
The drummers are old men; old as myself. And 


again they are playing the regiment into camp. 
The fifes blow softly as flutes. The roll of the 
muffled drums, tender as the patter of rain on au- 
tumn leaves, times the slow steps of old soldiers 
with the Dead March to which we listened so oft 
when life was in the spring-time. 

"There's nae sorrow there, John; 
There's neither cauld nor care, John, 
The day is aye fair 
P the Land o' the Leal." 



A SOLDIER expects to see somebody killed. A 
battle-field is a very dangerous place. Even a skir- 
mish-line in a little reconnaissance is an unsafe lo- 
cality for a picnic. There is always more or less 
and usually more peril of exposure during the 
storms of war. That brilliant Georgian, Henry W. 
Grady, of Atlanta, made a very striking criticism 
of General Sherman when he said that "he was a 
great general, but he was mighty careless with fire." 
When the recruit is handed his Springfield rifle, 
and the corporal shows him how to load it, and 
teaches him the best method of taking careful and 
accurate aim, and how to secure the most rapid fir- 
ing with most effective results, the soldier is aware 
that he is not going to fire blank cartridges. In 
fact, he is given no blanks. I never saw one all the 
time I was a soldier except when they were dealt 


out to the firing squad at a funeral, when the man 
over whom we were to fire was already dead. The 
weight of the forty rounds in the cartridge-box 
assured the soldier that he was carrying forty Bul- 
lets, every one of them capable of killing any living 
thing it hit Texas steer, grizzly bear or man. 

And the recruit understood very plainly that 
every bullet was meant to have its billet in a human 
body. It was made to kill some human being, and 
he was appointed by the government as its active 
agent to direct the bullet to a vital spot in the right 
man. He was especially warned against the un- 
soldierly sin of firing too high. That is the com- 
mon fault, even of the old soldier. Toward the 
end of a long day of fighting, when the whole body 
is wearied, and the left arm is especially tired with 
the weight, and the right shoulder is sore and sensi- 
tive with the kicking of the musket, the weapon 
pulls the arm down, and the bullet, spiteful but 
harmless, kicks up the dust only a little way in 
front of the soldier. But as a rule he shoots too 
high. The repeated expostulation of the sergeants 



is, "Fire low, boys; fire low! Rake 'em! Shin 
'em !" Otherwise the recruit will not kill anybody, 
and that is what he is shooting for. It is what he 
is paid for. That is his "business." 

Trained for the Business of Killing 

It sounds very cold-blooded, but it is all cold fact. 
Killing is the object of war. "You can't make 
omelettes," said Napoleon, "without breaking 
eggs." When you knew him at home, the recruit 
was one of the happiest, best-natured boys in town : 
kind-hearted, sympathetic, gentle as a girl. But 
now that he has enlisted, and has a gun, and is daily 
taught and trained how to load and fire with deadly 
aim, it is his duty to kill as many men as he can, 
before the one who has been detailed for that pur- 
pose by an officer on the other side kills him. The 
glittering bayonet which the soldier is taught how 
to "fix" on the end of his musket is not an orna- 
ment. It is made sharp at one end, a wicked sort 
of triangular bodkin, so that a vigorous lunge will 
drive it into the breast of a man up to the muzzle 



of the musket. There is nothing strictly orna- 
mental about a rifle. In case the bayonet should 
break, and all the cartridges are burned, the soldier 
is taught how to make a most effective deadly 
weapon out of the butt of his musket. Everything 
about a military equipment is dangerous to human 
life. Even the rations are often condemned, espe- 
cially embalmed beef. 

You might recognize a recruit in an old regi- 
ment by the careless manner in which he handles 
his piece. He leans it up against a tree without see- 
ing to it that it is firmly balanced and braced in its 
place. When he stacked arms, it was an old soldier 
who tested the stability of the "stack" with a little 
shake. The recruit carried his gun any which way 
on the march, until he was taught better by gentle 
caution, stern reprimand and jarring kick. The 
old soldier knew that a musket was dangerous 
"without lock, stock or barrel." 

One night in 1863 we bivouacked in an old Con- 
federate camp ground which had been hastily evac- 
uated on our uninvited approach. We found the 



rude bunks very comfortable, and not more over- 
crowded with inhabitants than the abandoned bunks 
of an old camp are liable to be, without regard to 
previous political affiliations. 

Next morning we broke camp to go on in pursuit 
of our retiring hosts. The "assembly" had sounded, 
and while we were lounging about waiting to hear 
"Fall in," a soldier in my own regiment found an 
old revolver under one of the bunks. It was one of 
those antique, self -cocking curiosities known as an 
Allen's "pepper-box," the most erratic and unre- 
liable weapon of death ever designed to miss any- 
thing at which it was pointed. It was commonly 
supposed that a man couldn't hit a flock of barns 
with one, if he were standing inside the middle barn. 
But this time the soldier, knowing the character 
of the "pepper-box" for general inaccuracy, 
pointed his find at a comrade, cried, "Surrender, or 
you're a dead reb!" and pulled the trigger. The 
deadly accident discharged a load it had probably 
carried ever since the war began. The living tar- 
get fell on his face with the blood streaming from 



his mouth. He was shot through the lungs, and 
died in a few minutes. And unanimously the man 
who shot him was condemned with savage harsh- 
ness, unmollified by one word of pity, sympathy or 

"What do you think a revolver is," demanded 
one of his own company, "a watch-charm?" 

Soldiers do not "play" at war. They do not use 
their arms and accouterments as playthings. They 
do not care to "play" soldier. One evening after a 
long tramp through a hilly country in Mississippi 
we went into camp in the heart of a nest of hills, 
rugged and ragged, and dense with woods and un- 
dergrowth and tangling vines, with water hard to 
get at, and were informed that we would remain in 
camp in that unpromising land for about three 

Such a shout of joy, loud, long-sustained and 
oft-repeated, as went up from three hundred tired 
men ! Why ? There was no drill ground. No wide 
stretches of level fields ; no broad valleys where we 
could practise methods of approaching and cross- 


ing a shallow creek, easy to ford, but just as wet 
to the feet as the Pacific Ocean. The soldier did 
not love to drill. On the other hand, his colonel 
was perfectly infatuated with the game of war. 
And brigade drill ! This is the delight of the gen- 
eral. It is a movement in masses. The regiment is 
the unit. It is an inspiring spectacle to mounted 
officers. To the infantryman, down in the dust and 
stubble of old cotton and corn-fields, seeing notfr 
ing but the monotonous wheels and half -wheels, 
rights and lefts into line, facings and halts, it is 
indescribably dull and tiresome. Occasionally, 
when after some complicated movements he finds 
himself and the regiment in the middle of the many- 
acred field, perfectly formed in the most beautiful 
hollow square a brigadier ever smiled down upon, 
there does come a thrill of pride and delight into 
his soldierly heart, for here is something he can 
appreciate. He brags about it more than his gen- 
eral. But, as a rule, he classes drill with hard 
work. At least he says he does. 


Laughter Shakes the Line of March 

But if a soldier grumbles at many things, he 
laughs at anything, and many times just as heart- 
ily he laughs at nothing. "For once, upon a raw 
and gusty day" as ever "the troubled Tiber 
chafed," we were marching through a pelting rain, 
splashing through the slushy mud. A tired soldier 
sought an easier footway up on the sloping road- 
side, and pulled off* both shoes, one after the other, 
in the sticky clay bank, an insult in the face of 
misery. The men who saw him roared with pitiless 
mirth. The next company, which could not see, 
howled in sympathy with laughter they could not 
understand. Down the line it went, increasing in 
volume as it got farther away from the cause of the 
unkindly merriment. The regimental teamsters 
caught it up, and their stentorian haw, haw, haws 
set the mules to braying. This passed on to the 
Second Iowa Battery, and the gunners made the 
soaking welkin ring with their cachinnation. It 
drifted back to the Eighth Wisconsin, and they 


slapped the spray out of their soaking trousers as 
they added gesticulation to emphasize their guf- 
faws. And all along the column the straggling 
groups of happy freedmen shrieked with ignorant 
delight after the manner of their mirthful kind. 

Well, that's one mission of laughter. Every 
soldier will tell you of such things. There is one 
army story that echoes from the Potomac to the 
Mississippi. Vociferous cheering, "a cry as though 
the Volscians were coming o'er the wall," breaks 
out at some point in the marching column. It goes 
down the line of march, a great wave of laughter, 
cheering, exultant; increasing in jubilation until it 
reaches the rear-guard in a mighty climax of re- 
joicing uproar, that would terrify the troopers of 
the enemy hovering on our rear, but that they un- 
derstand it all as well as we, for the custom was as 
one in both Union and Confederate armies. Either 
a favorite general has galloped down the column, 
or a frightened rabbit has dashed across the line of 
march. In either case it is the same the bravest 
of the brave, the fightingest general known of that 



division, or the timidest, scared-to-deathiest little 
animal in the world has received the same meed of 
tumultuous applause. Every veteran will tell you 
that his regiment, the fighting Hundred and Onety- 
Oncest, had an exclusive saying on such occasions : 
"Old Smith, Mower, Sherman, Sheridan, Hubbard, 
Logan," etc., etc., " or a rabbit!" 

Camping Stories Ancient and Modern 

There were few copyright stories in the army. 
A California regiment crossing the plains to join 
the army east of the Rockies would meet its own 
anecdotes, told with a nasal twang by the Steenth 
Vermont. Army stories are uniform as army ra- 
tions. The soldier on the stormy march who longed 
to be under the old barn at home, because it would 
be so easy to get into the house ; the one who asked 
the sutler if his pies were sewed or pegged; the one 
who, when the dear old lady listening to his account 
of the battle asked him why he didn't get behind a 
tree, scornfully replied that there weren't half 
enough trees for the officers; the soldier who was 



surprised on picket by his brigade commander, 
with his gun taken apart, oiling it, said, "You just 
wait till I sort o' git this gun sort o' stuck together 
and I'll give you a sort o' salute," was a Confed- 
erate, but we stole his story just the same; the sol- 
dier, missing everything at target practise, asked 
by his impatient sergeant where under the sun his 
shots went, who replied, "They leave here all right ; 
I can't tell where they go after they get away from 
me" ; the sentry who challenged, "If you don't say 
Vicksburg mighty quick I'll blow your head off"; 
the Irishman who said "Bags" when the counter- 
sign was "Saxe"; the slovenly soldier who, repri- 
manded on inspection by his captain, "How long 
do you wear a shirt?" replied, "Thirty-four 
inches"; the jayhawker who killed a sheep in self- 
defense because it ran after him and tried to bite 
him; all these narratives and many more were 
ascribed to men in my own regiment. Quick as 
we heard a new story we found the hero of it, in 
our own ranks. All the regiments in both armies 
follow the same patriotic custom. The wrathful 



shout of Frederick the Great to his recoiling grena- 
dier, "What, then, do you want to live forever?" is 
repeated of every colonel since his day ; we told it of 
five of ours. For when we exchanged stories with 
our prisoners, hoping to get some new anecdote 
material for our regimental fame, lo, the captives 
of our bow and spear told us our own threadbare 
tales about the Eighth Georgia and the Louisiana 
Tigers. Doubtless the guards at Libby Prison 
suffered the same bitterness of disappointment when 
they sought to add to their own stock of "the best 
and latest." The army stories with which the 
archers of Parthia and the left-handed slingers of 
Benjamin were wont to set the tables in a roar 
were easily adapted to the stage settings of the time 
by the musketeers of Frederick and the Grenadiers 
of the Old Guard. And now the pontoon stories 
are the uncopyrighted property of the aeroplanes 
and dirigibles. 



MAY 14, 1863, and a rainy morning at Missis- 
sippi Springs. The bugles sang reveille as sweetly 
as though the sun was shining on the drenched vio- 
lets by the muddy roadside and in the dripping 
woods. The drums beat sullenly, for like many 
more delicate musicians they are very sensitive to 
changes of the weather, and never like to get their 
heads wet. It takes all the thrilling "rat-a-plan" 
out of their chest notes, and makes their voices flat 
and tuneless as they thump out "Three Camps," 
"Slow Scotch," their double drags and three rolls. 

But the bugles ! 

Their voices never change. I have heard them in 
the midst of the storm of war on a blood-drenched 
battle-field come ringing down the broken lines, 
breaking through the pungent powder smoke, their 



voices of command clear as the song of a meadow- 
lark calling through a bank of fog or a cloud of 
drifting mist. Strangely sweet, the bugle call in 
the midst of the battle clamor the roar of the 
guns, the fierce rattle of musketry, "the thunder 
of the captains and the shouting." Heart-break- 
ingly sweet. The soldier starts sometimes as 
though he heard the echo of his mother's voice 
calling him out of the passion of carnage, calling 
him back to her side back to her arms, back to 
her tender caresses, soothing the storm of battle 
rage in his young heart, calling him to home and 
peace, with the old love songs, the cooing dove and 
the whistling robin. 

Then the bugle, sweetly as ever, calls yet more 
insistently, and a great thundering shout from the 
colonel drowns the mother-voice "Fix bayonets! 
Forward guide center double quick follow me, 
boys !" And the wave of the charge carries the line 
forward on a billow of cheers in a tempest of fight- 
ing madness. And still the bugle calls, just as 
sweetly and just as insistently, as though a beauti- 


ful queen were urging her soldiers on to glory and 
victory Deborah singing The Charge: 

How can anything so beautiful set a man on to 
fight and kill? Well, it does. A soldier in a 
fatigue uniform looks like a dude alongside of a 
civilian in his fishing clothes. There is good music 
in the beer halls; better, sometimes, than you can 
hear in your home church. A regiment marching 
down street behind its military band Sunday 
morning is far more alluring in appearance than 
the throngs of worshipers straggling along to wor- 
ship. Why is a battle-ship more attractive than a 
ferry-boat ? 

The Lure of the Fighting Spirit 

If you are walking with a friend, and pass an 
old man, white-haired, face lined with furrows of 
time and thought and toil, stoop-shouldered, lean- 
ing heavily on his cane as he steadies his steps, and 



the friend says to you, "That is Doctor Soulsaver ; 
he has been pastor of the same church in this city 
fifty-two years, and his people won't let him re- 

You say "Uh-huh!" glance around at the old 
man as he totters by, and go on talking. But if 
you meet a man with his civilian suit cut in military 
fashion, a white mustache ornamenting a bronzed 
face, swinging his cane to show that he carries it 
as a plaything, and your companion says : 

"That's General Smasher ; he's been in the army 
since he was a boy ; been in more battles than any 
man living; been wounded ten times; the hardest 
fighter in the American army ; never was whipped." 

You stop and look after the old mustache until 
you forget what you had been talking about. You'd 
like to meet that man. Why didn't you run after 
the old preacher and shake hands with him ? You're 
a church member. Why did you feel more interest 
in the old soldier? You tell. 

Why isn't virtue as alluring to the senses as evil ? 
Better is wisdom than folly ; sweeter, purer, nobler, 



lovelier. Yet it is written, "When we shall see Him, 
there is no beauty that we should desire Him." 

Sunny mornings or rainy mornings, the bugles 
sang as cheerily as so many meadow-larks, the bird 
with never a plaintive note in his song, whether the 
wind blow from the south with perfume, north with 
biting cold, or east with fog and rain, or west with 
a roaring cyclone. And this morning the bugles 
called out of the soaking chrysalides of the blankets 
a lot of crowing soldiers who echoed the bugles in 
their own music. A soldier's dreams must be sweet, 
for always so nearly always the exceptions are 
not worth noting he wakes up in high good 
humor. Such good medicine is sleep. And he sings 
the reveille with the bugles 

The day-star shines upon the hill, 

The valley in the shadows sleep; 
In wood and thicket, dark and still, 

My comrades lie in slumber deep; 
Far in the east a phantom gray 

Steals slowly up the night's black pall, 
And, herald of the coming day, 

Softly the distant bugles call 


"I can't get 'em up, 
I can't get 'em up, 
I can't get 'em up in the morning! 
I can't get 'em up, 
I can't get 'em up, 
I can't get 'em up at all!" 

A thought of motion at the sound, 

As though the forest drew its breath, 
And belted sleepers on the ground 

Move restlessly, like life in death; 
And slumberous echoes, here and there, 

Awaken as the challenge floats, 
And clearer on the morning air 

Ring out the cheery bugle notes 

"The corp'ral's worse than the private, 
The sergeant's worse than the corp'ral, 

The lieut. is worse than the sergeant, 
And the captain's the worst of all!" 


And while the thrilling strains prolong, 

Flames into rose and gold the day, 
And springing up with shout and song, 

Each soldier welcomes march or fray; 
Through wooded vale, o'er wind-swept hill, 

Where camp-fires gleam and shadows fall, 
Louder and sweeter, cheerily still, 

Ring out the merry bugle's call 

"I can't get 'em up, 
I can't get 'em up, 
I can't get 'em up in the morning! 
I can't get 'em up, 
I can't get 'em up, 
I can't get 'em up at all !" 

A cold breakfast, scalded down with boiling cof- 
fee, black as night and strong as prejudice, put 
the spring in our heels, and we were ready for what- 
ever the day might bring to us. We twisted our 
wet blankets, a load in themselves, and looped them 
over our shoulders. My regiment was a marching 
and fighting regiment, and knapsacks were luxuries 
of effeminacy, indulged in only in winter quarters. 
The sodden drums beat a doleful accompaniment 
to the merry squeaking of the fifes as they whistled 



us out of camp into the canal-like road with Garry 
Owen na gloria. Splash, splash, splash, through 
the mud. We wrapped ourselves in the shelter of 
our rubber blankets. But the steady rain found 
open folds at our necks, and crept in and trickled 
down our backs in little zigzag trails of moisture 
that found its way down into our shoes. As long as 
a soldier can keep his feet dry, he is comparatively 
comfortable. But when the water begins to sqush, 
sqush, in his shoes, Comfort bids him a reluctant 
farewell, and Misery, perching heavily between his 
shoulders, says: 

"Would you mind carrying me until it clears 

The warrior does "mind," but carries him just 
the same. His feet slip in the mud, and this makes 
marching hard and slow. A calvaryman, galloping 
down the column with an order from the front to the 
rear, or vice versa, splatters the infantryman from 
head to foot with mud and water, and is pursued 
for the next three miles of his career with volleys 
of sarcastic and abusive comments on his horseman- 



ship, his horse, his yellow stripes, his clanking 
saber, his personal worthlessness and his disgrace- 
ful pedigree that make his ears tingle and his heart 
boil with wrath. A baggage wagon stalls on a 
steep hill, and the soldiers come to the rescue of the 
struggling mules and help them up the long 
muddy Hill of Difficulty, the name of which is 

"What's in that wagon?" asks a recruit who has 
twice fallen in the mud, in his zeal to do his whole 
duty by the mules. "Ammunition?" 

"Naw!" scornfully replies the veteran. "Sup- 
pose I'd break my back pushin' a load of ammuni- 
tion? Them's hardtack." 

And that's worth while, and the soldier hopes his 
long-eared comrades will reciprocate his help and 
bring that wagon into camp on time at night. 

The Soldier 9 s Rainy-Day Religion 

Splash, splash, splash. The arms ache with the 
weariness of carrying the musket in one position, 
and that not the easiest one by any means. But the 
musket is as precious as the hardtack. The soldier 


may get soaked to the bone. He'll fight just as 
well. But that gun must be kept dry. He carries 
it at "secure," under his arm and under the pro- 
tection of his rubber blanket. Now and then he 
looks at the hammer and nipple to see that they are 
dry. He may want to use that piece of hand ar- 
tillery before night, and he cares for it like a baby. 
He may have to shoot somebody with it some time 
during the day. And suppose, when that time 
comes, the powder in the musket is wet. How can 
he carry out the decrees of fate concerning the man 
he is detailed to kill? Wet powder has no more 
place in a musket than a knot-hole in a barb-wire 

He has to stop wasting caps, and pick dry pow- 
der into the nipple with a pin. Tedious work it is, 
and the unpleasantest thing about it is that the man 
he was to kill may get tired of waiting and fill him 
full of large irregular holes by way of reproach for 
his dilatory tactics. 

Really, the soldier grumbles less and wants to 
fight more, in all the discomforts and irritations of 



a stormy day over muddy roads in a hilly country, 
than he does in June weather through a pleasant 
land. He'd like to fight the people whose conduct 
has dragged him away from his happy home. But 
if one of his comrades loses patience and breaks 
forth in bitter reviling of the rain and mud and the 
war, he helps to smother him in an avalanche of 
raillery and chaff. After that the column is in a 
happy self -approving frame of mind for several 
miles. The worst environments bring out the best 
in the soldier. He braces himself to meet adversity, 
as he would meet any other enemy. He prides him- 
self on being above the demoralizing influences that 
break down weak men. He may swear a little, which 
is more than enough ; and he may drink too much, 
which is when he drinks at all. And he kills a few, 
people. Which is his first and constant duty. 
What's a soldier for? But he believes in rainy-day, 
religion. His standard of manhood is high, and he 
found it in the Book his mother gave him : "If thou 
faint in the day of adversity, thy faith is small." 



THEY killed him on the early afternoon of a May 
day, May 14, 1863. We never found the man who 
did the deed, although there was no pretense of con- 
cealment about it. It was committed in broad day- 
light, in the presence of hundreds of men. The 
murder was officially reported, but there was no in- 
vestigation. Indeed, it was not called a "murder" 
at all. It was simply reported as a "casualty." 
"Casualty" "what happens by chance," the dic- 
tionary says; "an unfortunate accident, especially 
one resulting in bodily injury or death; specifically, 
disability or loss of life in military service." It is 
something to be expected. It is taken for granted. 
But the man himself, who made the accusation as 
he was dying, called it "murder." 

A dull staccato thunder of guns in the distant 


front, a galloping staff-orderly giving an order to 
Colonel Cromwell, which he shouted to us ; a sudden 
barking of many commands from the line officers ; 
a double-quicking of the column into the line, and 
almost in the time I have written it we were in line 
of battle in the woods before Jackson, Mississippi. 
I heard Captain Frank Biser shouting his custom- 
ary "instructions to skirmishers" as he deployed 
A and B Companies into the skirmish line, and 
they disappeared amid the scrub oaks, "Keep 
up a rapid fire in the general direction of the enemy, 
and yell all the time!" He was very specific re- 
garding the kind of "yelling," which was to be 
emphatically sulphurous. The regiment followed 
to the brow of the hill that looked down on the creek 
winding in muddy swirls and many meanderings 
across the level meadows. Far to our right we could 
hear our own battery, the Second Iowa, its bronze 
Napoleons throbbing like a heart of fire. And at 
our left the Waterhouse Battery, of Chicago, was 
baying like a wolf-hound at the gray battalions 
down by the little Pearl River. We were support- 



ing that battery. And we were ordered to lie down 
and keep ourselves out of sight. 

The Man Who Stumbled 

This seemed to me excessive caution. I was a 
recruit in my first battle. I called it a battle. The 
old soldiers spoke of it as a fight. Whatever it was, 
I wanted to see it. I rose up on my knees to look 
about me. It didn't look like any picture of a 
battle I ever saw in a book. The man with whom 
I touched elbows at my right, Doc Worthington, 
of Peoria, and an old schoolfellow before we were 
comrades, said with a note of admiration in his 
voice : 

"Haven't those fellows got a splendid line ?" 
I saw the long line of gray- jacketed skirmishers 
doing a beautiful skirmish drill. Puff-puff-puff 
the little clouds of blue smoke broke out from the 
gray line moving through the mist that was drift- 
ing across the field. I saw the blue-bloused skirmish 
line come into view from the woods at the foot of 
the hill. I saw a man stumble and fall on his face. 



Not until he did not get up and go on with the ad- 
vancing line did I realize that he had not stumbled. 

I had a strange trouble with my breath for a boy 
with lungs like a colt and a heart that is strong 
unto this day. An officer came riding down the line, 
pulled up his horse, asked a soldier for a match, 
calmly lighted his pipe, puffed it into energetic ac- 
tion, and rode down the hill after the skirmishers. 
How I admired his wonderful coolness! By the 
time I went into the next battle I knew that the 
pipe trick was not a symptom of daredevil, reck- 
less coolness, but only of natural human nervous- 
ness. The man smoked because he was too nervous 
not to. 

I saw the skirmishers now and then rush suddenly 
together, rallying by fours and squads as a little 
troop of cavalry menaced the line with a rush, a 
charge, we called it then. I saw them deploy just 
as quickly, and heard them cheering as a rapid 
volley admonished the troopers with a few empty 
saddles. Then I saw the gray line advance reso- 
lutely, and with much dodging and zigzagging our 



own skirmishers were slowly falling back to their 
line of support. The guns of the Waterhouse bat- 
tery, fiercely augmenting their clamorous barking, 
suddenly fell silent. The gunners swabbed out the 
hot cannon and then stood at their stations. 

"Why do they stop firing?" I asked. 

"They are letting the guns cool," said a cor- 

"They are going to get out of this," said Worth- 
ington; "those fellows are coming up the hill." 

I was looking at a young artilleryman. He was 
half seated on the hub of one of the Waterhouse 
guns, resting his face against the arm with which 
he cushioned the rim of the wheel. He was a 
boy about my own age, not over nineteen. He 
was tired, for serving the guns in hot action is 
fast work and hard work. His lips were parted 
with his quick breathing. He lifted his face and 
smiled at some remark made to him by one of the 
gunners, and his face was handsome in its anima- 
tion a beautiful boy. 

I heard a sound such as I had never heard be- 


fore, but I shuddered as I heard it, dull and cruel 
and deadly. A hideous sound, fearsome and hate- 

The young artilleryman leaped to his feet, his 
face lifted toward the gray sky, his hands tossed 
above his head. He reeled, and as a comrade 
sprang to catch him in his arms the boy cried, 
his voice shrilling down the line: 

"Murder, boys! Murder! Oh, murder!" 

He clasped his hands over a splotch of crimson 
that was widening on the blue breast of his red- 
trimmed jacket and fell into the strong arms of the 
comrades who carried him to the rear. Him, or It. 

The rain began again and the warm drops fell 
like tears upon his white face, as though angels 
were weeping above him. I watched the men carry 
him away to where the yellow flag marked the mercy 
station of the field hospital. 

Fear, before unfelt because unknown, clutched 
my heart like the hand of death, with the voice of 
that hissing spiteful bullet. My very soul was 



I did not know I shall never know who shot 
this boy. Nor, I think, does the man who killed 
him. Another boy, maybe. For there were as many 
schoolboys in the Confederate armies, it seemed to 
me, as men. 

What Friends They Might Have Been! 

Why, the war was only a year old. The boy who 
fired that rifle-shot his mother's good-by kisses 
were yet warm on his cheeks and lips. Only yester- 
day his sister unwound her arms from their caress- 
ing clasp about his neck to let him go to the war. 
Such a warm-hearted boy he was, they would tell 
you. Affectionate as a girl. A loving, impulsive 
southern boy. From the time that he first knelt at 
his mother's knee and learned the prayer that all 
mothers, north and south, teach their boys alike, 
he had knelt morning and evening before the Prince 
of Peace and prayed that his heart might be kept 
pure and sweet, and gentle and kind. 

And now? 



See what he had done ! He had committed a deed 
of death so far away from all his boyish thoughts 
that he had never prayed against it. 

And the boy from the Northland whom he had 
shot the other boy, who had been trying to 
kill him with the terrible six-pounders. Why, his 
mother, too, had kissed him good-by in the doorway 
of that far-away Illinois home, with her tears rain- 
ing through her kisses, just as the rain-drops of 
the May shower fell upon his white face a minute 
ago. His sister had sobbed her good-by as she held 
him close against the heart that had loved him since 
he was her tiny baby brother the heart that now 
would break for him. A quiet gentle boy, they 
would tell you. Always that smile on his face I 
had just seen. And all the years, as he knelt with 
bowed head and clasped hands, unknown to each 
other, his prayers and those of the Alabama boy 
had mingled as they ascended to the same heavenly 

What true-hearted friends they might have been, 


those two boys, had they met some time other than 
that sunless rain-swept day in May. And yet, not 
half an hour ago, the boy from Illinois had been 
working at those murderous guns like a blacksmith 
at his forge. When his gun, with a fierce breath 
of flame roared its defiance, shook out a murky 
banner of blue smoke, and sent its messenger of 
death screaming into a group of men and boys down 
in the meadow, how quickly that boy from Illinois 
sprang with his sponge staff to wipe the black 
powder stains from the grim lips, and cooled the 
rifled throat, hot with hate and death. How proudly 
he patted its grim sides when it made a "good shot" 
that is, when it killed somebody. And then, sit- 
ting on the hub of the wheel, the battle rage sub- 
siding in his heart as the sullen gun cooled at his 
side, the longing came dreaming into his eyes, his 
thoughts drifted away to a home up beside Lake 
Michigan, his mother and sister came into his 

And then a boy not unlike himself, a boy who 
had been watching the deadly work of the Water- 



house guns, a boy standing in a little clump of 
bushes in their May bloom, raised his rifle, aimed 
carefully at the cloud of smoke drifting slowly away 
from the last shot of that terrible gun, and, with- 
out knowing or seeing who was sitting behind that 
beautiful screen, fired. 

And killed a boy to whom his soul might have 
knitted itself, even as the soul of Jonathan clave to 

"Murder! Oh, murder, boys ! Murder!" 
Well for that boy in the Southland that he could 
not hear that cry. And well for all our boys in all 
our land if they shall never hear it. 

The Cry Through the Starlight 

The bugles called sweetly and imperiously, the 
colonel's voice rang out stern, peremptory, inspir- 
ing, the line sprang to its feet, and with mighty 
shouting rushed forward like unleashed dogs of 
war. Thundering guns, rattling musketry, cheer- 
ing and more cheering, a triumphant charge, a wild 
pursuit, a mad dash we were over the works and 



into the city. That night my regiment bivouacked 
in the pleasant grounds of the beautiful capitol of 
Mississippi. My first battle, and it was a victory 
a victory a brilliant victory! And I had a sol- 
dier's part in it. How proud I was! I could not 
sleep. I mentally indited a dozen letters home. 
And again I whispered a prayer, and looked up my 
good-night at the stars. 

Calm, silent, tranquil. Undimmed by the smoke 
of the guns. Unstained by the blood that had 
smeared the meadow daisies. Unshaken by all the 
tumult of charging battalions. Sweet and pure, 
the glittering constellations looked down upon the 
trampled field and the dismantled forts. Looked 
down upon the little world in which men lived and 
slept ; loved and hated ; fought and died. The quiet, 
blessed, peaceful starlight. 

Far away, yet thrilling as a night alarm, came 
dropping down through the starlight the cry that 
went up from the sodden earth ages and ages ago : 

"Murder ! Oh, murder !" 

My thoughts went northward, because I could 


not sleep, to the little home in Peoria where mother 
and sisters waited for me. Slowly, although I tried 
to keep them away, my thoughts came back to tKe 
battery on the brow of the wooded hill where the 
purple violets smiled through the strangling smoke 
of the guns. With a troubled mind I thought of 
other mothers and sisters who waited in northern 
and southern homes. I laid my arm across my face 
to shut out something that dimmed the starlight 
and marred the glory of victory with the stain that 
marked the altar of prayer and sacrifice when the 
world was young and fair. I would not allow my- 
self to think of hideous and hateful things. I 
would think of love and home, and the whistle of 
the robin, the song of the meadow-lark, and the 
mother voice, soft and sweet and dovelike, cooing 
the old love-songs. 

Still, even as I slept and dreamed of a victory 
won and of other fields of glory and triumph to 
come, down through the starlight came the echo of 
that fainting cry under the wheels of the guns : 

"Murder! Murder, boys! Oh, murder!" 



WHEN the bugles have called a sweet "tira-lira- 

la" that sounds more like the refrain of an old love- 


song than a battle-cry, a thrilling call, a magic 
word, that suddenly opens the long marching col- 
umn like the sticks of a colossal human fan, in- 
fantry and batteries double-quicking or galloping 
to right and left into the extended battle-line, there 
follows a halt of preparation. The panting line 
is quickly "dressed" ; and as a hurrying aide halts 
beside our colonel, hastily to explain to him the posi- 
tion of the batteries and the other infantry regi- 
ments with reference to his own command, the adju- 
tant fires an order or two at us : 

"Front !" "Or-<fcr h'arms !" 
Then the colonel commands, in a tone so intense 
that it reaches center and flanks at once : 
"Load at will load !" 



The metallic ringing of the rammers springing 
from their sockets; the thud thud thud as they 
drive the cartridges home; the clicks that tell the 
colonel the hammers are back on the caps, and the 
life of a man is hidden away in the breech of the 
rifle. Then 

"Fix bayonets !" 

Rattle and click of metal against metal all along 
the line. 

"Carry h'arms!" 

And the regiment stands as on parade or review. 
At "carry," because, under the old Hardee tactics, 
at "carry" the musket was most readily raised to 
"aim" or dropped to "charge bayonets." Now we 
are ready for anything. A bugle calls again, 
sweetly as a mother might call her laughing chil- 
dren in from play. The colonel interprets the well- 
known syllables 

"Forward guide center h'march !" 

When We Marched Without Music 

The line moves forward. Not a note of music. 


Not the flam of a single drum to time the steps. 
Our feet brush like loud whispers through the stub- 
ble of the field, or fall almost noiselessly on the turf 
of the meadow, or rustle through the leaves of the 
forest as our shoulders brush against the low-hang- 
ing boughs. The intense silence of the advancing 
line is more sublimely impressive than all the blare 
and crash of the noisy instruments of military mu- 
sic. We are marching into battle. The whole line 
is a living creature, with thought and feeling too 
profound for boisterous expression. 

As the line moves forward a man occasionally 
lifts his head the least angle in the world and raises 
his eyes a trifle as they turn toward the center of 
the regiment. There, fluttering in the sunshine 
like a beautiful flower with wings and a soul, is 
what welds all the hearts in the regiment into one. 
No two men in the line could express their sentiment 
in the same phrase, but they all think the same 
thing. Any man who marches under that flag is 
worth dying for. The sun shines like a golden flame 
through a great rent in its blue field. That was a. 


shell, gnashing its savage teeth as it tore through 
the galaxy of the stars. In the red stripes half a 
dozen stars of sunshine gleam. Those were Minie 
bullets that bit as they snarled through the silken 
folds. There are inscriptions, faint with many 
storms on the fluttering folds. The soldier knows 
the ragged letters by heart "luka" ; "Corinth" ; 
"Jackson"; "Vicksburg." And to-morrow there 
will be a new name fresh and clear. And a few 
names less on the regimental roster. 

Every time Honor writes a new battle name in 
gold on the flag she blots the names of a few men 
off the regimental roll, in blood. That's the price 
of the battle inscriptions. That's what makes them 
so precious. The inscriptions are laid on in gold, 
underlaid and made indelible with blood. No won- 
der the Flag seems to be a thing of life. Every 
fold in it is aquiver with human hearts. When it 
is fluttering in the wind, it is throbbing. When it 
is unfurled in the rain, it weeps. The Flag that 
is the Heart of the Regiment. And that it may 
never grow weak with the years and service, in 



every battle new hearts, young and brave and loyal, 
are transfused into the quivering veins of red and 
white; into the stars of gold on the field of blue. 
It is the living history of the regiment. It is the 
roster of the heroic dead, woven into the story of 
its many conflicts. It is memory and inspiration. 
It is the visible soul of a cause. So the men of the 
Union looked upon "Old Glory." So the men of 
the Confederacy gazed upon the "Stars and Bars" 
in the days of its hopes, when it flamed above fight- 
ing legions of the South. 

I have seen it written that with the coming days 
of arms of precision and long range a general who 
would order his troops into action with a flag flut- 
tering above the line to mark the location of every 
regiment would be court-martialed, charged with 
the murder of his men. Maybe so. 

But I can't see how men could go into battle 
without the Flag to glance at now and again. 

What reverence could a man have for a flag with- 
out a wound? How could you call a flag that wal- 
lowed its beautiful folds down in the dust all 



through a fight "a battle flag"? What is a flag 

Why, when the bugle sounded the call for battle, 
quick as thought the color-sergeant loosened the 
lacing which bound the marching rain-proof case 
around the flag and the corporals of the color-guard 
snatched the covering off the National and the Reg- 
imental colors; the sergeants shook the beautiful 
standards out of their folds; the sunshine kissed 
them and the winds caressed them and tossed them 
in their arms glad to see something as free as 
themselves released from the darkness. On the 
march the flag was cased against sun, rain and dust, 
that it might look brave as a bridegroom when it 
led the way to honor and victory. That was when 
we wanted to show our colors when the enemy 
could see us. 

"Here we are !" the Flag shouts to the skirmish- 
line, feeling its way through the dense woods hunt- 
ing for us ; "Here we are ! This is My Regiment, 
right under my folds ! Train your guns this way ! 
You'll find us more easily than you can lose us !" 



What Is a Flag For? 

On every battle-flag might be inscribed a para- 
phrase of that splendid defiance of William Lloyd 
Garrison : 

"I am in earnest I will not retreat a single inch 

That's what a Flag is for. How do you carry 
yours, Christian? 

A man doesn't love anything or anybody very 
well unless he is ready to die for it. 

Not necessarily to kill some one else, you under- 
stand. But to die yourself. To "present your 
body, a living sacrifice." 

I suppose that is one thing that made the church 
so inexpressibly precious to the early Christians. 
So many people died for it. First, Christ, the only 
world conqueror in all history, the great Captain 
whose hand never curved around a sword-hilt, and 
who forbade his soldiers to slay or to smite. Then, 
generation after generation, the bravest soldiers the 
world ever saw, with peace in their hands and love 
in their hearts, met the armies of the nations, died 



for the truth and vanquished their persecutors, un- 
til the Cross gleamed in holy triumph above the 
circus of Nero and the Coliseum, and the Legions 
ceased to be. That is fighting love the kind that 

My regiment was one of the four which, with the 
Second Iowa battery, composed what is known as 
"The Eagle Brigade," from the fact that the 
Eighth Wisconsin Regiment of that brigade car- 
ried a young American eagle all through the war. 
"Old Abe" had the post of honor at the center of 
the regiment, his perch being constructed of the 
American shield, and he was carried by a sergeant 
between the two flags, the Stars and Stripes and the 
regimental standard of blue emblazoned in gold 
with the state coat of arms. All the brigade adored 
him, and "secured" chickens for him he was 
fonder of chickens than the chaplain, and not half 
so particular about the cookery. To see him dur- 
ing a battle fly up into the air to the length of his 
long tether, hovering above the flags in the cloud 
of smoke, screaming like the bird which bore the 



thunderbolts of Jove, was to raise such a mighty 
shout from the brigade as would have blown Jeri- 
cho off the map. Other regiments had dogs, bears, 
coons, goats. There was only one eagle in the 
army "Old Abe." 

He was an eaglet when the war broke out, and 
enlisted young, like many of the boys who loved 
him and fought beside him. He was captured on 
the Flambeau River, Wisconsin, in 1861, by a Chip- 
pewa Indian, "Chief Sky," who sold him for a 
bushel of corn. Subsequently a Mr. Mills paid five 
dollars for him, and presented him to "C" Com- 
pany of the Eighth Wisconsin Regiment, known 
as the "Eau Claire Eagles." The soldiers at once 
adopted him as one of their standards, made him a 
member of the color-guard, named him in honor of 
the greatest of the presidents, and he never once 
disgraced his name. Through thirty-six battles he 
screamed his "Ha, ha," among the trumpets, smell- 
ing the battle afar off, fluttering among the thun- 
der of the captains and the shouting. Never once 
idid he flinch. He was wounded in the assault on 



Vicksburg and in the battle of Corinth. At this 
battle it is said that a reward was offered by the 
Confederate General Price for the capture or kill- 
ing of the eagle, "Pap" declaring that he would 
rather capture "Old Abe" than a whole brigade. 

Sixteen Thousand Dollars from an Eagle 

As he reenlisted at the close of his three years' 
service he went home on veteran furlough with his 
comrades, as he was entitled to do. When he said 
good-by to us his plumage was a beautiful dark 
brown from saber-curved beak to yellow shank. 
When he returned after sixty days, lo, he looked 
down from his shield in the majesty of a snow-white 
head and neck more beautiful and regal than 
ever the change that comes in the plumage of 
Haliaetus leucocephalus that was his family 
name at about three years of age. At the close of 
the war he was formally presented to his native 
state, Governor Lewis receiving him in the name of 
Wisconsin, from the hands of his comrades. Dur- 
ing the winter of 1 864, accompanied by a guard of 


honor, he attended the Sanitary Fair at Chicago, 
where the sale of his photographs, unautographed, 
netted the sum of sixteen thousand dollars for the 
fund for sick and disabled soldiers. He became a 
great traveler, being in attendance at many polit- 
ical conventions and soldiers' reunions. The sculp- 
tor, Leonard W. Folk, executed a model of him, 
which has been used in replica for a number of 
public monuments. He died on March 26, 1881, 
full of honors, though not of years, for he came of 
a family famous for longevity, some of his rela- 
tives living beyond the age of one hundred years. 
But his vitality was seriously impaired from the 
effects of smoke inhaled at a fire which occurred in 
his home, the state capitol in Madison, early in the 
year of his death. His body was prepared and 
mounted by a skilled taxidermist and occupied a 
prominent place in the military museum in the 
capitol until the building was destroyed by a sec- 
ond fire, February 24, 1904. "Old Abe" was a 
living standard, nobler than any effigy in bronze or 
gold ever borne above the legions of Rome or 


among the victorious eagles of Napoleon. It was 
fitting that his body should pass away in flames, 
even as the stormy years of his youth had been 
lived in the fierce joy that challenges death amid 
the fire and smoke of battle. 

Dear "Old Abe" ! I think of him every time I 
look at a quarter. His portrait makes it big as a 
dollar. I often wish all my creditors had belonged 
to the "Eagle Brigade." You see, patriotism not 
only makes a man's country seem greater ; it makes 
her coinage appear more precious. 



IT HAS been many changing moons since I at- 
tended a reunion of the Forty-seventh Regiment of 
Illinois Infantry. And I fear I may never attend 
another one until the Great Assembly. I would 
dearly love to. The "old boys" grow closer to my 
heart with every passing year. I was lonesome for 
a long time after the last reunion at which I fore- 
gathered with them. The years from eighteen to 
twenty-one are plastic impression plates of wax 
hardening into bronze with the years. 

It is the Cause that makes Comrades. Not con- 
geniality, nor personality. Comrades may be as 
antagonistic in personality as the sons of Jacob. 
They are church members, club members, Repub- 
licans, Democrats, Socialists, Insurgents, or any 
other human beings grouped together in one gen- 
eral class for high and earnest purposes. Brother- 


hood covers a multitude of sins not wicked sins, 
you know, but disagreeable sins, which are worse 
because they are so much more numerous. Know- 
ing who the dear Lord was, the society to which He 
was accustomed in heaven, its sweetness and purity, 
beauty and intelligence, I wonder many times how 
He could endure the disciples who clustered so 
closely around Him. I have sat in a boat on a 
warm day with Galilean fishermen on the Sea of 
Galilee. And they were no sweeter nor any cleaner 
two thousand years ago than they are to-day. I 
don't think our blessed Lord "liked" them any bet- 
ter than I did. But, then, He "loved" them. Which 
is quite different. You can't force yourself to 
"like" disagreeable people. But you can love them 
dearly. For that is a command. And it's easy 
for a Christian to obey. It isn't for any one else; 
no. That's one of the tests of Christianity. I 
rather think it is the supreme test. 

What Is a Comrade? 

But in all organizations a "comrade" is a "com- 


rade." That is the only definition. The diction- 
aries derive the word from the Spanish "camarada" ; 
Italian, "camera"; English, "chamber"; French, 
"chambre" "a military mess; those living in the 
same chamber or tent; an intimate association in 
occupation or friendship." But the meaning of a 
word, if it be a living word, isn't established by the 
dictionary. It grows, like a man. And how are 
you going to define a man? The dictionary 
says it is "an individual of the human race." "Spe- 
cifically, a male adult of the human race." But 
that no more defines Ulysses S. Grant or Robert E. 
Lee than "a perennial plant which grows from the 
ground with a single permanent woody self-sup- 
porting trunk" defines a giant sequoia three hun- 
dred feet high, thirty feet in diameter, and seven 
thousand years old. You can't define "friend" in 
dictionary terms. And "comrade" that isn't a 
name; that's a man. Tried by the acid test like 
pure gold, tried by the fire-test; by the wet fleece 
and the dry; by long marches; by hunger and 
thirst ; by the long line of gleaming bayonets ; by 



the thunder of the big guns ; by the fierce reaping 
hooks of flame ; by pain and wounds ; by the fierce 
grip of battle; danger and death. That's what a 
Grand Army man or a Confederate Veteran means 
when he says "comrade." How are you going to 
put all that into a dictionary definition? 

In the gray of early morning, in the quiet of 
noontide, or in the hour of the heaviest slumber, 
when the sky was the blackest velvet and the stars 
were whispering "sleep," the long roll broke into the 
silence like a storm of challenges, the men of your 
own company sprang into line, sent the cartridges 
home with swift dull-thumping strokes of the ram- 
rod, and with sharp clicks of the hammers adjusted 
the caps and stood at attention, ready for anything 
and everything that might happen. You felt the 
light touch of the elbow that dressed the line. A 
quick glance between the men to note who stood 
next in line; a half-turn of the head to catch the 
face of your file-closer. You knew, then, that the 
man next you would be next you if bayonet lunge, 
screaming shell or singing Minie bullet found you ; 



that he would stop to pick you up if the line fell 
back, though the price of his stopping might be 
his own life; that he would spring to catch you if 
he saw you were going to fall, before you could call 
to him : that is "comradeship." 

Yesterday you quarreled with him over some 
camp game. The day before, on camp guard, he 
dropped his musket "a-port" and barred your secret 
entrance through the lines, when detection meant 
disgrace and punishment for you. The day be- 
fore that, when you were on "provost duty," you 
found him howling drunk and marched him to the 
guard-house, deaf to his piteous appeals to friend- 
ship. It wasn't many days ago you two fought in 
the Company street, as though there weren't plenty 
of chances to fight your common enemies. You 
never did like each other very well. He was a 
"moss-back Democrat" and you were a "black Re- 
publican"; he was a swearing, fighting, drinking 
scoffer, and you were a sober church member. 

The long roll ceases, the colonel's "Forward, 
guide center!" preludes the explosive "March!" 



and this man, as he steps out with you, gives your 
elbow an emphatic little touch that feels like a pat 
on the shoulder. Your mother wouldn't risk more 
for you that day than he will. She couldn't. And 
you know it. That's "camaraderie." Not a bois- 
terous story or a rollicking song over a bottle of 
wine at night. But a sense of loyalty that lasts all 
day ; that thrills in every nerve and throbs in every 
heart-beat. True "comradeship" claims all that one 
man has to give for another. The dear "Friend 
that sticketh closer than a brother," when He was 
giving to His beloved disciples a title dearer and 
truer than that of "brother," said, "I have called 
you friends" ; "Greater love hath no man than this, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends." 
That's comradeship. That's greater than brother- 

"The brother," sadly said the Teacher, "shall 
betray the brother to death." 

Cain and Abel were brothers. David and Jona- 
than were comrades. 

"Blood is thicker than water," we all know. 


Then there must be something thicker and warmer 
and redder than blood. A love truer than ties of 
kinship. A love that can do more than group a 
cluster of men into one family, or bind many fam- 
ilies of men into one clan, or federate a score of 
clans into one nation. A love so pure and loyal, 
and so Christ-filled, that it will one day blend the 
whole world of men into one great throbbing heart 
of perfect friendship. Then will come the end of 

How Comradeship Was Tested 

May 22, 186S ? General Grant had made his 
march that opened the Vicksburg campaign, clos- 
ing with the battles at Champion Hills, and the 
crossing of the Big Black. By the morning of the 
nineteenth a ribbon of blue, stronger than a web of 
steel, wound among the hills from river above to 
river below Yazoo to Warrenton, and Vicksburg, 
like Jericho of old, was "straitly shut up." An as- 
sault upon the formidable works had been made on 
the nineteenth and had failed. But the soldiers were 



flushed with the succession of victories that had 
measured the march from Grand Gulf to the Big 
Black, and were not at all disheartened by one re- 
verse. They "knew" they could take the city by, 
assault wanted another chance. And General 
Grant knew he could never keep an army in sucK 
a temper patiently in the ditches through the long 
operations of a siege, unless he first gave them their 
other chance and let them find out for themselves 
what they were up against and whom they were 
fighting. By the twenty-second all his troops were 
up and the second assault was ordered. You know 
more about it than I do, because you have read its 
many histories, and I was only in one little corner 
of it, very small, exceeding hot, and extremely 
dangerous, so that my personal observations, being 
much concerned with myself, were limited by dis- 
tracting circumstances. 

Anyhow, without much regard to my conveni- 
ence, the assault was ordered at ten o'clock that 
beautiful May morning. Ten hours of the most 
terrific cannonading I ever heard; the assailing 



army storming the fortified position of an enemy 
almost its equal in numerical strength, when one 
man in a fort is considered the equivalent of seven 
assailants; Sherman, McClernand, McPherson, 
Mower, Quinby, Tuttle, Steele, A. J. Smith and 
Carr, war-dogs of mettle and valor. Hour after 
hour they charged the great bastioned forts, each 
time to be swept back with ranks thinned and scat- 
tered, but ready for another grapple. At half past 
three in the afternoon the brigade to which my regi- 
ment belonged Mower's, then the third brigade of 
Tuttle's division, Fifteenth Army Corps (Sher- 
man's) was ordered, as a forlorn hope, to storm 
the bastion at Walnut Hills. We charged in col- 
umn, and as we swept up the hill from the shelter of 
the ravine, we passed a little group of great gen- 
erals watching us "go in" Sherman, Tuttle and 
Mower, our corps, division and brigade command- 
ers. Who wouldn't fight before such a "cloud of 
witnesses"? As we passed, Mower detached him- 
self from the group and placed himself at the head 
of his own men. When we reached the crest of the 



hill we were met by a withering fire from the fort 
and stockade and breastworks that struck us in our 
faces like a whirlwind of flame and iron. We 
fought through it, close to the fort, when we were 
finally repelled. Then there happened to me that 
to which the rest of the day's fighting seemed only 

Bringing Back a Lieutenant 

As we fell slowly back, I saw our second lieu- 
tenant, Christopher Gilbert, stagger and fall crook- 
edly forward. I thought he was killed, but as I 
looked for a moment I noted him trying to rise. 
It wouldn't do to leave him there, that was cer- 
tain death. Robley D. Stout, one of my company, 
and I ran to him, and lifting him to his feet, drew 
his arms over our shoulders, and brought him back 
to the retreating-line. He was shot through the 
leg with a grape-shot, and unable to help himself 
more than to cling to our shoulders. I wished at 
the time that he were as big as a bale of hay, for 
his body made a sort of shield for the two youths 



who were carrying him away from the missies that 
still pursued him spitefully as though they were 
bent on finishing the work they had begun. 

He recovered after a tedious time in hospital, 
and when he could return to duty the additional 
bar he won at Vicksburg graced his shoulder-strap, 
and he was our first lieutenant. There were two 
Gilberts in the company, Chris and Charley, broth- 
ers, good boys and good soldiers. I met my lieu- 
tenant a few times after the war. Then our lives 
drifted apart. I became a minister and was pas- 
tor of Temple Baptist Church in Los Angeles, Cal- 

And one day my lieutenant came before me, not 
to give orders, but to take them. He was a pris- 
oner, and his fair captor stood beside him. She 
had done what Pemberton's sharpshooters in Vicks- 
burg could not do. Love had won my lieutenant. 
I ordered him to accept the terms of the bride, to 
"love her, comfort her, cherish her, honor and keep 
her, till death them did part." And he obeyed 



After the service he said : 

"Bob, do you recall the hot afternoon on the 
slopes before the bastion at Vicksburg?" 

"I was just thinking of it, Lieutenant. And 
I was wondering if now you might ever blame 
me for helping to drag you out of the range of 
Pemberton's sharpshooters ?" 

"Indeed, no," he said, "I never will. I've often 
wondered why the dear Lord sent you back after 
me. But this is the 'Why.' " 

And I guess it is, for they have entered into the 
supreme comradeship, "wherefore they are no more 
twain, but one flesh." 



"THAT'S a fine army," said Gideon, a general ap- 
pointed from civil life what our West Pointers 
call "a mustang," a good horse with no pedigree, 
a good soldier without a West Point diploma, 
"that's a fine army," looking at his first command, 
and the largest he had ever seen ; "thirty-two thou- 
sand able-bodied men. I can whip Midian off the 
map with these heroes." 

But God, who had seen many armies, said softly 
to Himself, not to hurt the general's feelings, "Not 
with that crowd you can't." Then He commanded : 

"Send home all your cowards." 

And the general, who didn't believe there was 
one in his army, forgetting that he himself "feared 
his father's household and the men of the city" 
when he half -disobeyed an order 2 called on those 



who were "fearful and afraid" to strike for home 
and mother when they were ready. To his amaze- 
ment, two-thirds of his corps, twenty-two thousand 
men, catching sight of Midian encamped in the 
valley, made an early start from Mount Gilead 
before a bowstring was tightened, and got home 
before the war began. And Gideon reviewed his 
remaining ten thousand. 

"Well," he said, "this is as big an army as 
Barak had when he destroyed the hosts of Sisera. 
Much may be accomplished with ten thousand se- 
lected men." 

But God said, "A phalanx is better than a mob. 
Try them out at the ford of the brook, and keep 
all who really want to fight." 

And of ten thousand soldiers there endured the 
final test three hundred fighting men, men so hun- 
gry for a fight and so eager to find an enemy they 
forgot they were thirsty when, with parched lips, 
lolling tongues and panting breath, they went 
splashing through a desert brook on their way to 



Sweating Down to Fighting Weight 
So from that day to this every army has had 
to be sweated down to its fighting weight by sim- 
ilar, although slower, processes. There's a lot of 
useless material about an army; about as useless 
as noise is to a wagon. And yet wherever the 
wagon goes the noise goes. Look at the stuff a 
church gathers about itself at the end of a six 
weeks' revival. Wait until the revival is six months 
old, and the church has been fighting sin in all its 
subtle forms every day in all that time. Then call 
the roll at the prayer-meeting. And yet most 
heartily do I believe in revivals. But the great 
net brings to shore lots of fish that are good for 
nothing but to cast away. And of all things that 
are a revolting stench on dry land, a worthless fish 
is a little the loudest and worst. 

Of the army of Israel's deliverance only three 
hundred were "Gideon's men." In our modern 
wars much the same thing is approximately true. 
There isn't much new found outside of the old 
Bible, is there? A thousand men enlisted in a reg- 



iment in 1861. In 1862 the regiment counted it- 
self strong if it carried three hundred bayonets 
into battle. These three hundred constituted its 
fighting strength. The line on dress parade no 
more represents the regiment than the big well- 
dressed congregation Sunday morning represents 
the church. All the skulkers appear on dress pa- 
rade, usually in the smartest uniforms they do 
nothing to soil them and in the front ranks. The 
fighting men do not show at their best on parade. 
Some of them were killed in the last fight. Others 
are in hospital, nursing their wounds in the am- 
bitious hope that they may rejoin the regiment 
before the next battle. A prayer-meeting is never 
so showy as the Sunday morning congregation. 

Considering the fact that the world has been at 
war ever since there were three men in it, compar- 
atively very few military organizations have left 
a record for courage of the highest type, what 
Napoleon Bonaparte called "two o'clock in the 
morning courage": courage that is just as trust- 
worthy, clear and sane in a sudden emergency 



as with the average time of ample preparation, 
knowing at once what to do and fearlessly ready 
to do it. It was the blare of the trumpets and 
the glare of the torches at midnight that defeated 
Midian, before ever a blow had been struck with 
the sword. Of the famous troops, one thinks at 
once of Gideon's three hundred; David's mighty 
men, although theirs was an example of individual 
prowess, rather than the achievements of a band; 
Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans at Ther- 
mopylae; Napoleon's "Old Guard"; Cromwell's 
"Ironsides," of whom he wrote, "truly they were 
never beaten" ; the six hundred at Balaklava ; Fred- 
erick's "Grenadiers"; and, of course, the regiment 
that went from your town in the sixties. I should 
have chronicled that one first, but I couldn't think 
of the name. The fighting "Onety-Onest," wasn't 
it? It was "The Fighting" something, I know. 
That's what it called itself. I belonged to that 
regiment myself. 

Were there no cowards in any of these famous 
organizations? There may have been at first, but 



they were sifted out. But of those hard fighters 
who were left, were there none who were at times 
a little bit frightened? Was there ever a soldier 
who was never "afraid"? After the battle of 
Kunersdorf, Frederick the Great was as nearly 
scared to death as any man could be and not die. 
Napoleon, who died an exiled prisoner, should have 
fallen at Waterloo. Maybe he couldn't. Carlyle 
tells of Ney, whom the emperor called "the bravest 
of the brave," raging through that fearful carnival 
of death crying, "Is there no bullet for me?" Cae- 
sar, Hannibal, Napoleon, Wellington, Grant, Lee, 
Sheridan, Jackson, did these great captains 
never feel the sense of fear? Their critics will 
answer "yes," their admirers, "no." If I have the 
casting vote, I will have to vote with the "ayes." 
And why? Well, because they were men before 
they were soldiers. They were human beings. And 
if I may judge from my own limited and narrow 
experience, ranging through one generation and all 
around the world, I have never met more than a half 
dozen men who declared they had never felt the 



sense of fear. !And none of these was a soldier, 
and all of them were liars. 

And another reason I have for thinking these 
great captains knew what it was to be afraid, is 
that they were splendid soldiers and brave men. 
And no man reaches the highest point of courage 
who has not overcome fear. Fear it is a part of 
our humanity. In the truest story of the race that 
was ever written, fear is named before love or hate : 
"I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid." 
So the first man that ever lived was tormented by 
fear. And Abraham was wounded by it. And Ja- 
cob. And Moses. And David. And His mightiest 
soldier, Joab. And Peter, the bravest of the 
Twelve. And Paul, the great apostle. I tell you, 
man, if you have never known fear, your courage 
has never been tested. The bravest men are con- 
verted cowards. 

The Sifting Worse Than Fighting 

What is a coward, then? The sort of man 
who is disgraced before the regiment because he 



has dishonored the colors, whose military buttons 
are cut off, whose head is shaved, and who is 
drummed out of service down the length of the 
line on parade to the Rogue' *s March? What 
makes him a coward? 

He was all right when he enlisted. He knew 
as much, which is to say, as little, about war 
as the rest of us. He knew that a soldier was 
mighty liable to get shot. He counted the chances. 
He was a patriotic citizen. He loved his country 
well enough to offer and to risk his life for her. 
What made him a coward? 

Well, the sifting process is something terribly 
drastic. It's worse than fighting. The men who 
failed at the brook test could have gone through 
the battle with the Midianites all right could they 
have crossed the brook in the right spirit. The 
awful quiet before the battle; the muffled hum of 
preparation; nothing to do but form and wait, 
with plenty of time to think about it. And the 
environment does not suggest pleasant lines of con- 
templation. You note how small your own regi- 



ment is two hundred men. But you picture the 
Confederate Eighth Georgia, right in your front, 
with nine hundred fighters. Really it isn't so large 
as your own, but you don't know that. As the 
battle draws nearer and closes around you, a score 
of things happen to "scare" a man, even though 
he may be a brave soldier. And they scare the 
coward a great deal more. 

As you lie on the ground to hide the position 
of the regiment from the enemy and to keep under- 
neath the searching shell-fire and the skirmish shots 
that get past your skirmishers, a man is talking 
to you, with his face turned toward your own, a 
foot away. You are listening to him with interest, 
because he is asking you about something that hap- 
pened in your own town, in the Lincoln campaign. 
As you start to answer him, something fearful blots 
out his face with a smear of blood, and he is 
a shuddering thing without voice or breath or soul, 
huddled there at your side. A shell has burst above 
your company and a piece of it struck that man 



in the face like an angry specter that resented his 

Before you get over this, as you look along the 
line for encouragement in the faces of men braver 
than yourself, your eye catches the glance of a 
soldier four or five files away. A smile plays on 
his lips in answer to your glance, which he rightly 
interprets. Then suddenly his face whitens like 
death. He lifts his head a little; his open mouth 
gasps for air once twice. Then he lays his face 
back on the grass as quietly as though he were 
going to sleep. A bullet hissing along through 
the grass like a lead serpent had just found his 

And This Is War 

Another shell bursts over you with a sudden 
shriek and a cloud of stinging smoke that burns 
your eyes, and half a dozen ragged fragments hur- 
tle through the blue dusk. One of them snaps 
like a mad dog at the foot of a comrade, tears 



and shatters the tiny bones of ankle and foot. The 
man screams with agony. As they carry him away, 
he troubles the air with his cries, for he knows he 
is a cripple for life. 

The regiment rises to its feet and begins at the 
command " 'Ten-shun ! Commence firing !" The 
man next you who has closed up that first hideous 
interval is vigorously ramming a cartridge down 
his rifle. He says to you, "What shall I do? .This 
cartridge is jammed!" "Spat!" a spiteful Minie 
ball interrupts him, as it crushes the elbow of the 
lifted arm with a sound so cruel that you flinch 
with the other man's pain. But he he twists his 
face into a grimace to hide his hurt and answers 
his own question, "I won't do anything with it!" 
as he walks back to the rear, a one-armed man 

Sometimes a tragedy has a ghastly sense of 
wonderment that is near to grim humor. In the 
assault on Vicksburg I saw a comrade stoop twice 
in vain efforts to pick up his musket, knocked from 
his grasp, before I could call to him that his hand 


was gone. A bullet had cut away every finger on 
his right hand, and all that he felt was a painless 
sense of numbness. My face must have showed 
what I thought, for an older soldier, laughing as 
he capped his musket, said: 

"That's all right, Bobbie; you're liable to get 
killed any minute and never know a thing about it !" 

That's what I thought. But his confirmation 
wasn't half so reassuring as it sounded. 

Then, again, as the regiment stands in line wait- 
ing for the "Forward" that will send it like a whirl- 
wind upon the battery in its front, a great solid 
shot with a devilish shriek, wasting its mighty force 
on a life that a tiny rifle bullet could destroy as com- 
pletely, smites a man in the chest, and hurls him 
twenty feet out of the line, tearing him to pieces 
like a wild beast. 

Now, if after all these things you still want 
to fight, if you shout loud and long and exultantly 
as you spring forward to follow the flag when it 
advances, then you have got across the brook with 
only one or two refreshing laps at the cool water 


that bubbled in alluring crystals around your knees. 
Now you can be trusted with trumpet and pitcher 
and sword. Now, "faint, yet pursuing," you will 
hang on the trail of your beaten enemy like a hound 
on the trail of the wolf. 

But the hardest fight took place and the great 
victory was won when you fought with yourself 
as you splashed through the brook with your head 
in the air. 



WHY does the coward go to war? 

It is the most dangerous occupation in the world. 
It offers the greatest discouragements and the 
smallest rewards for cowardice. It most emphat- 
ically professes for timidity only unmeasured con- 
tempt. It is the calling for which the coward is 
most unfitted by temperament and inclination. 

Why, then, does the coward even start to war? 

For certainly he does start, in every war that 
is declared. He is found in every army. He goes 
to war voluntarily, many times eagerly, for the 
cowardly temperament is volatile. A rabbit is 
sprightlier than a bulldog. The coward may start 
to war with the valor born of ignorance. When 
I enlisted, I had but one well-defined fear. I was 
afraid the war would be over before I got into a 



battle. Every time I got hold of a newspaper or 
news reached the camp by courier, my heart sank 
with the disloyal dread that that old Grant all 
generals are "old" to the soldier had utterly 
crushed the enemy with one terrible blow, and I 
would have to go home without one battle story. It 
was terrible. However, it didn't happen. Though 
many a time afterward I wished that it had. I got 
into my battle. After that a second fear displaced 
the first. I was afraid the war would be ended 
before I got into another. And again my fear was 
an illusion. The war kept on until I got into a 
score of fights. And then, seeing perhaps that 7 
was never going to quit first, the hosts of the Con- 
federacy agreed to stop if I would. At least that 
is the way it appeared to me. And it seemed to be 
an honorable termination of the prolonged and ob- 
stinate struggle. Up to 1865 I had killed as many 
of them as they had of me, so that honor was satis- 
fied. And you couldn't tell what might happen. 
At the next grim roll-call of artillery and musketry, 
they might get the delegates and have a majority 



of one over me. Not much of a majority, but it 
would be as good as unanimous. 

The Business of Fighting 

There is more "thrill" in the first battle than in 
any of the subsequent ones. You may go through 
harder battles than the first; longer, fiercer, more 
savagely contested, bloodier in every way. But no 
soldier will ever forget item or incident in his bap- 
tism of fire and blood. He fought like a patriot. 
He never forgot the high and holy cause in which 
he was a soldier. He looked at the flag with his 
soul in his eyes. He cared no more for his own life 
than he did for the grass under foot. Older and 
braver soldiers than himself reproved his reckless- 
ness. He was daring without cause. He stood up 
like a man, aimed deliberately into the smoke that 
concealed the hostile line, and hit a tree-top. A 
man isn't afraid in his first battle. He is excited; 
thrilled, his nerves are on a tension like harp- 
strings; his senses are abnormally alert; he sees 
everything; hears everything. 



In all the others he fights like a soldier. He 
takes sensible care of himself. He may fire many 
times without seeing a man. But every time he 
shoots into a place where he knows there are men. 
He fights a little better every time he goes into a 
new battle. A certain commonplaceness of war in- 
fects him. He's where his business calls him. He 
chatters about all sorts of things, because his nerves 
are tuned up to concert pitch ; but he isn't nervous. 
He discusses with his comrades the merits of the 
campaign of which that battle is the key-note. They 
dispute about the weight of the guns that are 
shielding them; they distinguish between "rifle" 
and "smooth bore." They listen to a report 
sharp and clear that splits the battle clamor like 
a new voice and say, "That's a Rodman" ; and they 
hear a great boom, loud and heavy, and say, "That's 
a bronze Napoleon." Thus they introduce the re- 
cruits to the machines that are trying to kill them. 
They draw cuts with blades of grass to see who 
shall take the canteens and hunt for water. And 
when the unlucky one returns and some foolish one 


asks, "Where did you get the water, Bill?" there 
is a roar of laughter when Bill replies, "Don't ask 
me till you've had your drink." They imitate the 
whining of a bullet that comes unpleasantly close, 
and echo the shriek and howl of the shell. Some of 
the men are such artists in this mimicry that their 
efforts are encored. They reply to the shell that 
comes along with its "whoo-whoo" with innocent 
answers "Who? Cloyd Bryner? That's him 
four files down the line." "Who, me? I'm not 
here. I'm back in Illinois. Ain't never been out of 
the state." They chaff one another's personal pe- 
culiarities to the verge of a quarrel. They act like 
the bleachers at a baseball game, or football play- 
ers between the halves. That's their business 

If you can get the coward safely into that, he'll 
stay and he'll fight. As a rule he fails in the pre- 
liminaries. But sometimes he gets so nearly across 
the brook that he has only one foot in the water 
and then he lies down for a drink. 

I remember a coward whom I knew in the army. 


A good coward. In all other respects, a good sol- 
dier. A pleasant-looking man, with a weak chin, 


hidden by his long beard. Blue eyes, kindly as a 
woman's ! A manly voice ; an intelligent mind. A 
cheery comrade; rather quiet. Never shirked a 
duty in camp or on the march. Neat in his dress ; 
excellent in drill. Gun and accouterments always 
bright and clean. In scant-ration times, always 
ready to divide what was left in his haversack or 
canteen, taking the smaller portion himself. Vigi- 
lant on camp-guard, though I soon observed that he 
was never detailed for picket duty, where a man 
may have to stand vedette away out by himself, 
with his own responsibilities a very lonely post of 
the highest importance. 

This man was a coward. 

He knew it. He was ashamed of it. He tried to 
overcome his cowardice. The regiment never went 
into battle that he didn't start in with his company. 
If his number brought him into the front rank, 
there he stood. He rammed down his cartridge 
with a look of resolution on that uncertain mouth, 


and he "fixed bayonets" with the air of a man who 
is going to reach somebody with it, in spite of the 
modern military axiom that "bayonets never cross." 
He lifted the hammer twice or thrice to be certain 
that the cap was good and fast on the nipple. He 
tightened his belt a hole or two, as a man who knows 
there is going to be hot work and no dinner-hour. 
He shook his canteen at his ear to be sure there was 
a good supply in case he was wounded. He made 
all the preparations of an experienced, "first-class 
fighting man" who intended to volunteer when a 
forlorn hope was called for some desperate duty, 
on which only picked men would be taken. 

What Happened Under Fire 

And his comrades stood by him and helped him, 
for his reputation was known, his weakness and his 
good points. A sergeant fixed one eye exclusively 
on him. His nearest comrade touched elbows with 
a little ejaculation to "play the man." The cap- 
tain paused behind him as he walked down the line 
and whispered to him. The lieutenant caught his 


eye and nodded encouragement. Unconsciously we 
all seemed to be leaning a little closer to him. Then 
the order translated the bugle with a shout, the flag 
fluttered and the line moved forward; a rain of 
shots told that our skirmishers had found them, and 
just as we were ready to dash forward like dogs of 
war the man nearest the coward stopped, choked, 
coughed up a stream of blood and fell sidewise. 

And the coward ran away. 

Broke from his file-closer who tried to stop him; 
tore loose from the corporal who clutched his arm; 
threw down his gun; dodged the sergeant who 
lunged fiercely at him with his bayonet ; out-stepped 
the lieutenant who ran after him; ignored the 
wrathful shout and threatening revolver of the 
colonel, and was safely gone. That was as far as 
ever we could see him. Back to the rear he raced. 
Past the supporting lines; back into the ruck and 
rabble of other cowards and the demoralized horde 
of camp-followers that make the rear of the fight- 
ing line a pandemonium of fear and misrule and 


confusion, despite the good soldiers held there on 
duty. He ran away. 

Sometimes shame kept him away from the regi- 
ment for a day or two, or even three. But he al- 
ways came back with a wild excuse for his disap- 
pearance which we all knew, himself included, was 
a foolish lie, and resumed his duties. 

In the first instance he suffered for it. The regi- 
ment resented it. His company felt disgraced. But 
insensibly our attitude toward him changed. Cow- 
ardice is one of the most serious offenses in the 
army. It is punishable by extreme measures even 
death. I have seen men "drummed out" of the 
service for it. But no charges were ever brought 
against this man. He was never punished. And 
being a young soldier when I joined the regiment, 
I used to wonder why. And often I wonder about 
him in these quiet days when a saluting cannon on 
some day of parade sets my heart beating for a 
moment with quickened throbs as I half listen for 
the exploding shell to follow. No man who ever 


had a loaded gun fired right at him ever again 
hears rifle or cannon-shot with the same indifference 
that the civilian feels and shows. It is exactly the 
difference in the looks and feeling of the man who 
loves to read and the man who can't read a word, 
as they walk past the shelves of a library. 

Was He a Failure? 

But whereas in the fierce old days I wondered why 
the colonel didn't court-martial the coward for run- 
ning away, I now wonder if the man was a coward, 
after all! 

For the cowards all ran away before the battle, 
when they didn't have to run. They went back 
from Mount Gilead as soon as they saw the enemy. 
They stayed away. They played sick the day be- 
fore. They fell out of the marching ranks when 
we began to double quick. They stopped at the 
fence when the regiment suddenly deployed into 
line to tie up a shoe that was already so knotted 
they couldn't untie it. They got details in the hos- 
pitals in St. Louis and Cincinnati and other north- 


ern cities months before. There were scores of 
ways of keeping out of a battle without actually 
suffering the charge of cowardice. And some there 
were who ran away on the way in, who got so far 
across the brook they could hear the distant bat- 
teries and the nearer skirmishers. 

But this man went in every time. With what beat- 
ing of heart, and straining of nerves, shortness of 
breath, and strenuous calling up of all the reserves 
of resolution and will-power, God knew, and the 
colonel half guessed. A braver man, up to that 
point, than any of the rest of us. He started in, 
and he would have stayed through but for that 
awful smear and sickening smell of hot blood. If 
we could have held him past that, either he would 
have won his chevrons or died of heartsickness. 
Somehow I think if the coward, when he went to 
enlist, could have got a message through to the dear 
Lord, and had waited for the answer, and could 
have understood it, he would have been told that 
"they also serve who only stand and wait." God 
never intended that man should kill anybody. I 


have known other men since those days, calm-na- 
tured, fearless, who can not abide the sight of a 
tiny splotch of blood. They faint, as they look, as 
though the surgeon's steel that drew the crimson 
drops had pierced the patient's heart. 

The coward served through the war, and when 
the regiment marched home to welcome and honors, 
I think one of the bravest men that went with 
them was the coward. I know he was beaten in 
every fight he went into, but he went in. And he 
fought. And such fighting ! Much we knew about 
it, we laughing, shouting, devil-may-care schoolboys 
playing with firearms! 

What is a coward, anyhow? Cravens, and das- 
tards, and poltroons, we know at sight. But who 
are the cowards ? And how do we distinguish them 
from the heroes? How does God tell? 


IN THE old Hardee tactics the "School of the 
Soldier" is the title of that chapter which pertains 
to the instruction of the individual soldier in the 
things which he can do by himself the manual of 
arms, for example, which he can study and per- 
form in solitude as well as in the company of the 
regiment, with the excepting of "stacking arms," 
which no soldier can do with one musket. And the 
facings right and left and about, and things of 
that sort. After he has passed his finals in this 
school there comes the "School of the Company," 
and of the battalion and other larger movements 
and evolutions. He must have his entire company 
to assist him to form fours or march by the right 
or left flank as the case may be with or without 
doubling. He can not deploy as a skirmisher with- 
out at least a platoon to cooperate, nor can he 


"rally by fours" without a minimum support of 
three other warriors, nor "rally by squad" without 
comrades to the extent of a group. And when he 
advances in the broader knowledge of battalion in- 
struction he learns how impossible it is for one man 
to form a square, with officers in the center. 

There are some things, you see, that a man can 
do by himself. He can learn to handle his rifle; 
stand sentry ; go on certain phases of fatigue duty, 
chopping wood or policing the color-line oh, lots 
of things a man can do by himself. Guard his 
heart and keep his lips ; brush his teeth and control 
his thoughts. All these things pertain to the man. 
In the army and in the church and in business, cer- 
tain things belong to the "school of the soldier." 
But in the large things of life, you have to work 
with human cooperation. All sorts of humans, 
too. Some of these things maybe, I am not sure 
of that pertain exclusively to the army and mili- 
tary education. Most of them, perhaps all of them, 
are useful in every calling. Some of these things 
we are taught by our officers. 


Not Taught by the Officers 

The president of our division, our general, 
taught us in great masses and large movements 
which we did not understand, but which we knew 
he did, and that sufficed us. As for personal in- 
struction, almost any good soldier in the ranks 
could have corrected the general in his manual of 
arms. He taught the "larger good." 

The colonel came a little closer to us, in the regi- 
mental drill. We learned the reasons for his move- 
ments and responded to his commands with spring- 
ing alacrity because his eye was upon every man 
in the line. The captain was a rigid catechist, 
knowing each one of us, his catechumens, and teach- 
ing us with the keenness of a martinet the things 
that pertained to our personal military salvation. 
But closest of all, the old-fashioned sergeant stood 
only a ramrod length away from the individual, 
with an eye for dust and spots like a hawk for prey. 
His was the "bark" with a bite behind it that 
straightened the slouching shoulders and brought 
the wandering little finger back to the seam of 



the pantaloons. His the mechanic's glance which 
"dressed" the company line till it answered the 
'geometrical insistence of the shortest distance be- 
tween two points. His the sarcastic taunt which 
adjusted the awkward feet until the heels clicked 
together and the toes pointed at the required angle. 
The sergeant was the man who "licked into shape'* 
the shuffling recruit and made a soldier of the cub 
of the awkward squad. 

In the church the pastor is the general, the su- 
perintendent is the colonel and the Sunday-school 
teacher is the sergeant. 

The colonel taught us things the general had no 
time for. The captain taught us some things the 
colonel couldn't. The sergeant taught us nearly 
everything the higher teachers left out. 

Then there was the best teacher of them all the 
pedagogic martinet without warrant or commission, 
chevrons or shoulder-straps; the old-fashioned 
birch-rod teacher who taught by main strength, 
precept and example the private gentleman of the 
line. He never assumed to give instruction to the 


company or battalion. But as an unassigned in- 
structor in the "school of the soldier," the private 
taught his fellows their lessons without opening 
the book, and graduated every pupil cum laude. 
There's a heap of things you learn in the army 
and in civil life that are not in the book, and no- 
body can teach them so well as the other soldier. 

Send the boy to kindergarten at four years. At 
six he goes into the primary. Ten finds him in the 
intermediate. Fourteen sees him in the grammar- 
school. At eighteen he is graduated from the high- 
school, and at twenty-two he comes out of college 
and passes a few years in the university. Then a 
couple of years in Europe, and at last his educa- 
tion is complete as far as the schools are concerned. 
So much for the books. But, oh, the things he 
learned from the other boys ! The unwritten things 
these form the important part of his education. 

It was the private soldier who taught me not to 

step on the heels of my file-closer. He also taught 

me how to make a feather bed of two oak rails. 

How to grind coffee in a tin cup with the shank 



of a bayonet. How to boil roasting-ears in their 
own husks in the ashes. How to drink boiling cof- 
fee without blistering my throat. How to conceal 
my person behind a sapling not half so thick as my 
body. How to fill my canteen from a warm pond 
and let the water cool in the sun on a hot day. 
How to march eighteen or twenty miles over rough 
roads day after day without getting an ache in my 
feet. How to make one day's rations last three days 
without going hungry. How to get a refreshing 
drink of water without swallowing a drop. How to 
lift a nervous hen from the bosom of her family 
without any outcry from herself or relatives. How 
to fool the sergeant on roll-call once. That trick 
was like a limited ticket, good "for this day and 
train only." How to "explain things" to the cap- 
tain. How to launder one's linen, which was woven 
of the coarsest flannel, in cold water. How to make 
one's self clean when it was muddy, and how to look 
fresh when it was dusty. How to divide the last 
pint of water in your canteen so as to get a drink 
and a sponge bath and have enough left for coffee. 


How to make two months' pay twenty-six dollars 
last till next pay-day, two or three months away, 
after you had sent half of it home and spent half 
the remainder. How to keep awake on picket all 
night when your dry eyes ached and burned for 
sleep. How to sleep like a tired working man under 
the guns of a battery shelling the enemy's lines. 
How to light a fire in the woods with wet twigs in a 
pelting rain and a fretful wind with your last 

When the general, colonel, captain and sergeant 
have done their best for you, you turn to an old 
private soldier in your own company and say : 

"I have been graduated in the school of the sol- 
dier and have a diploma signed by four able in- 

The Orderly and the A. D. C. 

And the private says: 

"Very good, my son. You have been a diligent 
pupil. Now come to my high school and I'll teach 
you something worth knowing." 


Oh, you do learn something from what you read ! 
"Reading maketh a full man." And you learn a 
little more from what you see and hear. But you 
take honors in the things you do. It's a mighty 
good thing to "know these things," but "blessed 
are you if you do them." For then you will know 
how to do them right, and you'll never forget 

Once upon a day there came to our regiment, on 
the march, a staff officer splashing along the rain- 
soaked road, trailed by an orderly, who looked twice 
as important and rode much better than the officer. 
The aide-de-camp checked his galloping steed in 
front of Colonel Cromwell, showering the regi- 
mental staff with yellow mud and water as he sa- 
luted. The orderly halted quite as abruptly, but 
did it much better, splashing no one. Because he 
had been trained in the school of equality, which 
has been the training-school for humble folk and 
plain people in all ages. He also used to splash 
the infantry colonel when he rode up in mad haste. 

That is, once he did. 



And he was also wont to halt before a platoon 
of cavalry with the effect of a mud volcano in active 

That is, he was wont to, once. 

And also, he was once accustomed to ride splash- 
fully along the line of a marching regiment of in- 
fantry, impartially distributing emulsions of mud 
and water as the churning hoofs of his charger 
might direct. 

That is, once upon a time he did. The next time 
he didn't. 

That is one of the excellencies of the educational 
processes of the public schools. And the army is 
a public finishing school. The officer, like the son 
of a millionaire in a private school for young gen- 
tlemen, can take many liberties and do many imper- 
tinent things. The private soldier, being promptly 
admonished by his comrades on his first offense, 
which is considered as heinous as his last, usually 
makes it his last. He may offend in other ways, for 
there are a thousand ways of being mean. But 
rarely, if he is a good soldier, which means if he 


has common sense to begin with, does he repeat his 
first crime. 

Where the Training of Adversity Wins Out 

Wherefore on this occasion, the orderly, having 
aforetime been bombarded by infantrymen of his 
own rank, and slammed by cavalrymen of his own 
grade, remembering that it was just as easy and 
far more acceptable to the audience to splash the 
bank of the road as the faces of his comrades, did 
so. And was loftily and sternly insensible to the 
sarcastic eulogiums upon his skill and tact, uttered 
in loud tones by the soldiers web-footing along the 
middle of the road. 

Thus may we see how sweet are the uses of ad- 
versity and the lessons of poverty. The man who 
learns to bear the yoke in his youth doesn't mind 
the callosities in his age. Nobody so wisely in- 
structs us in the practical ways of life as our 
equals. I learned a hundred things, more or less 
useful, from my comrades of the rank and file that 


my colonel never taught me. Indeed, some of these 
accomplishments he sternly and faithfully admon- 
ished me to forget. 

Meanwhile the untaught aide-de-camp has sa- 
luted and galloped away in showers of mud, fol- 
lowed, at safe and dry distance, by the orderly, 
who rode well and wore the bearing of a division 
commander, piling it on a little bit high, perhaps, 
because he was aware that his immediate superior 
rode very badly, his awkwardness being emphasized 
by the floundering of a gaitless horse. The orderly, 
who was a chambermaid in a livery stable when he 
enlisted, had gone to the corral when the new horses 
came in and picked out his own from a couple of 
hundred. But the aide-de-camp, who was a book- 
keeper in a shoestore when the war broke out, had 
sent his colored servant to select a horse for him. 
The negro man, before that he was a freedman, had 
been a plowboy on a Mississippi plantation, and 
his idea of a good horse was a brute with bunchy 
knees,, big hoofs and tremendous quarters. And 


that was the style the aide-de-camp got. Hence 
the contrast between the riding of the A. D. C. and 
the orderly. 

Oh, you go to school to learn to read and you go 
to college to "increase learning"; you pore over 
the endless output of books to enrich your mind, 
and you burn the midnight oil in the "much study 
that is a weariness of the flesh." And all this time 
"Wisdom" who is quite a different thing from 
books and lectures "Wisdom crieth aloud in the 
street; she uttereth her voice in the broad places; 
she crieth in the chief place of concourse; at the 
entrance of the gates" ; in the ranks of the private 
soldiers; in the crowds of the common people 
where there is dust, and care, and toil, and poverty ; 
pain and heartache; fighting and dying. That's 
where you find "Wisdom." 



Two fierce October days we fought with Price 
and Van Dorn at Corinth, Mississippi the third 
and fourth. Twenty-eight thousand Confederates 
hurled themselves against the forts Robinette, 
Williams, Richardson, and a fourth, Powell, near 
the Corinth Seminary. These were all new forts, 
unknown to the Confederate generals. Fort Will- 
iams was a very strong work, defended by big 
thirty-pound Parrotts a type of our best guns at 
that day. I have heard of surprises in war. But 
I think the completest I ever saw was one sprung 
by this bastion of big guns upon a little Confeder- 
ate field battery at the beginning of Corinth fight. 
The enemy knew well the location of the town, and 
before daylight they ran that little park of six- 
pounders up under the guns of Battery Williams 
and began shelling the town, greatly to the dis- 


comfiture of a few thousand non-combatants who 
dwelt therein, for it was a great depot of supplies. 
The gunners enjoyed the little fight they were hav- 
ing all by themselves, while the big fort, blanketed 
in the darkness, emulated "Brer Rabbit" and lay 
low. But when daylight raised the curtain, those 
thirty-pound Parrotts, as though amazed and indig- 
nant at this nest of popguns playing war on the 
very door-steps of their fort, tore themselves loose 
like rifled thunder-storms at musket range. The 
little Confederate battery? Oh that? One eve- 
ning of a dismal November day a kind-hearted citi- 
zen of Brooklyn observed a little boy, weeping 
bitterly, standing at the foot of a dark stairway 
that led to some mysterious region above. 

"What is the matter, little man?" asked the citi- 
zen kindly. 

"Pap's gone up-stairs to lick the editor," sobbed 
the boy. 

"Well," said the philanthropist, "hasn't he come 
down again?" 

The boy sobbed afresh. He said: 



"P-pieces of him have!" 

It seems to me, as I recall the incident at this 
distance, that fragments of those little cannon came 
down during that afternoon. However, I was much 
occupied with things nearer me that day and was 
not looking for the descent of terrestrial meteors. 

A Baptism of Fire and of Tears 

Twenty-eight thousand Confederates dashed 
themselves against our line of defense those two 
savage days like waves of the sea. My own regi- 
ment lay in the ditch of Battery Robinette, which 
bore the brunt of the final attack. Curtains of 
infantry connected the forts. For a wall of sand 
is as good to stop the sea as a sea-wall of granite. 
Twenty thousand boys in blue there were under 
Rosecrans, fresh from fighting the same foes at 
luka, where our major, Cromwell, had been taken 
prisoner. The fighting on the third at Corinth 
punished the Federals severely. At half past nine 
o'clock on the morning of the fourth, Price's col- 
umn, formed en masse, came charging along the 


Bolivar road like a human torrent. It moved in 
phalanx shape through a storm of iron and lead 
from batteries and infantry, and drove through all 
opposition, the men bowing their faces, but push- 
ing on, as men crowd their way against a driving 
storm. As it came within rifle-range the phalanx 
divided into two columns covering the front of the 
forts. It captured Fort Richardson and General 
Rosecrans' headquarters, in front of which seven 
dead Confederates were found after the battle. It 
seemed that nothing could stop that onrush of de- 
termined men. But in the score of minutes that so 
often decides a battle, the Fifty-sixth Illinois recap- 
tured Battery Richardson, the heavy assaulting col- 
umn was thrown into confusion, and the splendid 
charge was turned into a swift retreat. The whole 
affair lasted half an hour. 

Meanwhile Van Dora's column, which should 
have cooperated simultaneously with that under 
Price, but was delayed by the natural obstacles of 
broken ground, tangled swamps and densely- 
wooded thickets, came charging in on the Chewalla 


road. Texans and Mississippians these fighters 
were. I was greatly disturbed to perceive they 
were headed straight for our position Forts Will- 
iams and Robinette; but then I thought of those 
fearful Parrott thirty-pounders and the terrible 
guns of our own Robinette trained point-blank on 
that charging whirlwind. Colonel Rogers himself 
led his Texans, densely formed, in a close charging 
line massed four deep, the Mississippians keeping 
pace with them. The infantrymen sprang to their 
feet. Volley after volley of musketry helped the 
big guns tear the assaulting lines to pieces. But 
they kept on. They struck the infantry supports 
as a great combing wave strikes a reef. They beat 
us down with their muskets and thrust us away with 
bayonet lunges. Colonel Rogers leaped the ditch at 
the head of his men and was killed on the slope of 
the parapet. We saw the soldiers in gray swarming 
into the embrasures, fighting with the gunners who 
met them hand-to-hand with muskets and sponge 
staffs. The Ohio brigade of Stanley's division, fir- 
ing withering volleys, came to the rescue of the 


forts and their supports, and Confederate rein- 
forcements hurried into the maelstrom of fire and 
steel. Our colonel, Thrush, was killed, shot through 
the heart. Step by step we crowded them back 
until they shared the fate of the other column and 
turned in retreat. The battle was over. Battalions 
of gray and blue stretched themselves along the 
idusty roads toward the Hatchie River, in mad re- 
treat and hot pursuit. Of the forty-eight thousand 
troops engaged, seven thousand two hundred were 
killed and wounded, showing how continuous had 
been the fighting. There had been no idling pre- 
cious time away in the great industry of Christian 
nations killing one another. Of the casualties 
four thousand eight hundred were Confederates, 
two thousand four hundred Federals. I know that 
none of the wounded, and I don't think one man of 
the killed on either side, changed his opinions be- 
cause the other man had fired first or more accu- 
rately than himself. That shows how much of an 
argument war is. 

That night I was detailed on duty with the par- 


ties that go over the field, looking for the wounded 
and the dead, succoring the living, burying the 
'dead. The savage day had been a baptism of fire. 
The night was a baptism of tears. The day had 
been the terrible inspiration of battle. The night 
was the meditation of sorrow. On the battle-field 
Death was the grisly King of Terrors, wearing the 
black plumes of a mighty conqueror, naked and 
splendid and bloody in his brutality. Fighting 
under his crimson standard the gentlest soldier was 
shouting, "Kill ! kill !" Here, in the starshine that 
sifted sorrowfully down through the pines on the 
white faces and mangled figures, he was terrible in 
his silent reproaches "Why have you men called 
me out and set me on to do these things ?" 

The Acorn's Silent Message 

We found a dead Confederate lying on his back, 
his outspread fingers stretched across the stock of 
the rifle lying at his side. He was one of Rogers' 
Texans. Fifty-seven of them we had found lying 
in the ditch of Battery Robinette. I covered his 



face with the slouch hat still on his head and took 
off the haversack slung to his neck that it might 
not swing as we carried him to his sleeping-cham- 
ber, so cool and quiet and dark after the savage 
tumult and dust and smoke of that day of horror. 

"Empty, isn't it?" asked the soldier working 
with me. I put my hand in it and drew forth a 
handful of roasted acorns. I showed them to my 
comrade. "That's all," I said. 

"And he's been fighting like a tiger for two days 
on that hog's forage," he commented. We gazed 
at the face of the dead soldier with new feelings. 
By and by my comrade said: 

"I hate this war and the thing that caused it. I 
was taught to hate slavery before I was taught to 
hate sin. I love the Union as I love my mother 
better. I think this is the wickedest war that was 
ever waged in the world. But this" and he took 
some of the acorns from my hand "this is what 
I call patriotism." 

"Comrade," I said, r Tm going to send these 
home to. the Peoria Transcript. I want them to tell 


the editor this war won't be ended until there is a 
total failure of the acorn crop. I want the folks at 
home to know what manner of men we are fight- 

That was early in my experience as a soldier. I 
never changed my opinion of the cause of the Con- 
federacy. I was more and more devoted to the 
Union as the war went on. But I never questioned 
the sincerity of the men in the Confederate ranks. 
I realized how dearly a man must love his own 
section who would fight for it on parched acorns. 
I wished that his love and patriotism had been 
broader, reaching from the Gulf to the Lakes a 
love for the Union rather than for a state. But I 
understood him. I hated his attitude toward the 
Union as much as ever, but I admired the man. 
And after Corinth I never could get a prisoner 
half-way to the rear and have anything left in my 

Oh, I too have suffered the pangs of hunger for 
my dear country, as all soldiers have done now and 
then. But not as that Confederate soldier did. We 


went hungry at times, when rain and mud or the 
interference of the enemy detained the supply 
trains. But that man half-starved. That's differ- 
ent. After the battle of Nashville, December, 1864?, 
we marched in pursuit of Hood as far as the Ten- 
nessee River. There, for more than a week, we 
subsisted on corn not canned corn- and not even 
popcorn, but common, yellow, field corn on the cob. 
And the row we suffering hero-martyrs made about 
it ! A soldier was carrying a couple of ears of corn 
to a camp-fire to parch for his supper. A mule 
tethered near by saw him and lifted up its dreadful 
voice in piteous braying. The indignant warrior 
smote him in the jaw, crying, "You get nine pounds 
a day and I get only five, you long-eared glutton, 
and now you want half of mine !" 

Bare Feet and Empty Stomachs 

In those days of sore distress we learned various 
ways of preparing field corn to make it edible. We 
parched it and carried it around in our pockets, 



munching it at all hours and coughing the hulls 
out of our esophagi with raucous hacks. We made 
hominy of it, as the negroes taught us, boiling it in 
lye made from our abundance of wood ashes, and 
hulling it in mortars hollowed in the oak stumps. 
Then we learned to make corn pudding. This was 
hominy served on another plate for dessert. The 
"other plate" we obtained by scouring the same one 
with ashes and a corn-cob. Also we made corn pie, 
molding cold hominy into pie-like shape, very like 
the sauce of John Baptist Cavaletto in Marseilles 
prison who made what he would of his three hunks 
of dry black bread by cutting them into the de- 
sired forms of melon, omelet and Lyons sausage. 
So we made the hominy into the likeness of the 
dishes we "honed for." We used to say that we 
dined with the mules because the cook was on holi- 

Other haversacks we found that night on Corinth 
field with scant rations in them. Sometimes it was 
a chunk of corn pone. I used to think hardtack 


filled the order for concrete breakfast slab, but 
corn pone a week old reconciled me to soft food. 
Hardtack for mine. 

So the southern people loved the states for 
which they suffered. As Professor Sloan writes of 
the French nation: "No people ever made sucH 
sacrifices for liberty as the French had made. 
Through years of famine they had starved with a 
grim determination, and the leanness of their race 
was a byword for more than a generation." That 
was why they held Europe at bay in their bare feet 
and with empty stomachs. Any cause for which 
we suffer deeply grows dearer to us with the suf- 
fering. We love it highly and holily. And when 
I listen to this beloved country of ours talking 
morning, noon and night about money, and money, 
and more money, I think of the parched acorns I 
found in the haversack of that brave Confederate 
soldier lying on Corinth field with his face turned 
toward the stars. 



SPEAKING of fighting and starving and eating, 
you know you can't talk about war without discuss- 
ing food, for soldiers eat a great deal more than 
they fight, at a reunion banquet once upon a time 
a private soldier was called on for a speech. He 
rose to his feet a little nervously, looked up and 
down the crowded banquet board, and said: 

"Boys, I am not much of an orator, but I will 
say this: There's a heap sight more of you here 
to-night than I ever saw in a fight." 

And he sank into his chair overwhelmed by an 
avalanche of appreciative and enthusiastic ap- 

I think one of the most impressive services held 

in the Federal armies during the war must have 

been a certain Thanksgiving sermon preached by 

Chaplain H. Clay Trumbull. He told me about it 



in one of the little talks I had with him which are 
fragrant memories in afternoon days. The lines 
in Virginia were drawn very close together, as so 
much of the time they were. It was stormy equinoc- 
tial weather, impassable Virginia roads had for 
days delayed the supply train, and officers and 
men alike were living on very short rations. But 
Thanksgiving morning a commissary train arrived, 
bringing to the Union soldiers plenty of govern- 
ment rations, and to one particular regiment came 
with providential timeliness good things from home 
a veritable Thanksgiving feast. The pickets 
were firing spiteful little shots at each other as 
occasion served; occasionally a little skirmish 
marred the pleasure of the occasion; at intervals 
a field-gun boomed its defiance through an em- 
brasured bastion. The blue smoke hung sullenly 
over the lines, and no soldier could know at what 
moment the quarrelsome skirmishing or a general's 
opportunity might bring on a battle. But the 
happy regiment, grateful for its anticipated 
Thanksgiving dinner of "mother's good things," 


mustered for service, and Chaplain Trumbull, in- 
spired by the occasion and his always happy rec- 
ognition of the only text for the special hour, 
preached from the passage in the Shepherd Psalm : 
"Thou preparest a table before me in the pres- 
ence of mine enemies." 

A Homesick Warrior with No Place to Weep 

What a meeting-house! What a congregation! 
What a text! And what a preacher! There was 
one occasion certainly in which the entire sermon 
was in the text. The soldiers were electrified with 
the wondrous harmony and appropriateness of the 
service and its environment. No man who heard it 
ever forgot the exposition of that passage. That 
was one of Chaplain Trumbull's rare gifts recog- 
nizing a text that would preach itself. A good hint 
for a Sunday-school teacher. A good topic will 
illuminate a lesson as a headlight displays the 
track. One of the most delightful of American 
humorists Charles Heber Clarke, of Philadelphia, 
once said to me, "I wrote the book in about six 


weeks. Then I spent three months thinking of a 
title. Then the title sold the book." 

This, however, is somewhat irrelevant. But not 
altogether so. Good things from home were more 
welcome to the soldier than December sunshine. I 
think that was especially so of the western troops. 
We wandered so far from home in search of our 
enemies sometimes. Texas was a long way from 
Wisconsin. It was a far cry from Michigan to 
Alabama. There was neither daily nor weekly 
mail. Letters reached us when and where they 
could catch up with us. Once upon a time, when I 
had been away from home nearly two years, our 
division was taken north by steamboats from Mem- 
phis to escort "Pap Price" out of Missouri, where 
he was having too much his own way with the state 
militia. And one day from Cairo to St. Louis we 
steamed up along the pleasant panorama of the 
Illinois shore of the Mississippi. I think there 
was also a shore on the Missouri side there is 
now, I know, and it is quite probable there may 
have been a bank in that direction in 1864. I 


never saw it. I sat on the starboard wheel-house 
and saw every mile of that blessed Prairie State 
from Cairo to East St. Louis. That was Grand 
Tower, and that was Chester. There was the 
mouth of the Kaskaskia River, and there oh, there 
was the "old Sam Gaty," headed for Peoria and La- 
Salle, and my mother wasn't a day away .from me! 
And I couldn't even go ashore we never once 
touched at an Illinois port. Not once. And that 
old steamboat we were on the Des Moines it was 
the division "flag-ship" and was crowded from pike- 
staff to rudder with infantry and artillerymen. I 
prowled all over it, from pilot-house to hold, and 
there wasn't one secluded spot on that illy-contrived 
craft wherein a roystering warrior, who was at that 
time in the mounted service and an orderly at divi- 
sion headquarters a swaggering trooper who wore 
clanking spurs and a jangling saber, tilted his hat 
far to starboard and made as much noise when he 
crossed the deck as a load of scrap-iron on a Phila- 
delphia cobble street there wasn't one place, I say, 
where that sort of a "mighty man" could go and 


have a good cry in any kind of comfortable privacy. 
So I saved my weeping until we caught up with old 
"Pap Price," and he gave me something that occu- 
pied my thoughts to the exclusion of tears. I have 
seen homesick people three thousand miles away, 
from home. But oh, that trooper whose hat was 
pulled down over his eyes and who held his under 
lip with his hand to keep it from flopping against 
his teeth, was the homesickest thing that ever 
sopped his yellow-braided cuffs with tears because 
he was afraid somebody might see him if he used 
his handkerchief. But there is no comfort in that 
sort of a cry, when you are continually looking 
around to see if anybody is laughing. There is 
no pleasure in that kind of weeping. Every army 
transport that is built to carry young soldiers 
ought to be constructed with crying places. 

Only a little way above Ste. Genevieve another 
boat in the fleet ran into us, smashed our wheel- 
house and swept half a dozen mules overboard. All 
but one of them drowned. That happy hybrid 
swam ashore and landed in Illinois. He waved his 


paint-brush tail triumphantly and disappeared in 
the willows headed for Evansville on the Kaskaskia, 
right in the heart of Randolph County. The only 
mule I ever envied. 

A box of good things from home the only one 
that ever reached me during the war was the sim- 
ple means of introducing me to my commanding 
general. We were camped at Young's Point, Lou- 
isiana, where we were employed in digging that 
famous canal that was designed to carry the fleet 
around Vicksburg in that great campaign, when 
a man of my company came up from the river one 
day and said, "There's a box addressed to you 
down on one of the steamboats." 

The Private Meets the General 

While he was yet speaking, it seems to me, I had 
ascertained the name of the boat, got a pass to the 
river and an order for my box and was on my way. 
I presented my order to a civilian commissioner on 
the boat and was informed that all the stores on the 
transport, private and public, were the property of 


the Sanitary Commission, having been seized for 
use in the hospitals. Get into the hospital, he said 
kindly, and I could have some of the contents of 
my box. I said there was a smallpox hospital a 
few miles up the river that I could get into, but I 
didn't want the box so badly as that, although I 
did want it at almost any price short of the pest- 
house. I prowled around until I found my precious 
box. I showed it to the commissioner, feeling pretty 
certain that if it looked as good to him as it did to 
me he would relent and let me have it. The very 
sight of it produced in me a spasm of the same kind 
of homesickness I afterward contracted going up 
the Mississippi to St. Louis. He said he knew 
how tempting it looked, but duty he paused im- 
pressively on the word and bade me remember what 
duty meant to a soldier. He pronounced it "d-dou- 
ble o." I lost my temper and told him I had heard 
the colonel say it much better and far more em- 

I tried one more appeal. I knew there would be 
letters in the box. Might I open it and get my 


letters? I had made a mistake in being sar- 
castic, and he wouldn't even let me do that, and 
finally ordered me off the boat. I think my lip 
must have hung down very pathetically, for the big 
Irish mate followed me to the gangplank. 

"Ye'll get yer box, me lad," he said, "if ye do 
as I tell ye. Go up on the cabin deck an' ask the 
Quid Man." 

Who was the Old Man? 

"Ould Grant, no less. He kem aboard about an 
hour ago, an' he's up there smokin' this minute whin 
I kem down. I'll pass ye the gyard and ye'll go on 
up. Come an wid ye." He led me up to the cabin 
deck. There sat the silent brown-bearded man 
whose features every soldier knew and whose great- 
ness every western soldier held in unquestioning 
reverence. I saluted, the mate explained my er- 
rand, and the general looked out over the turbid 
Mississippi and smoked silently while I pleaded my. 
little case. Then he asked for my order. My heart 
beat high with the hope that he would write a mili- 
tary O. K. across it with magic initials. To mvj 


amazement, he read it and rose to his feet. "Come 
with me," he said. And a bewildered private sol- 
dier, escorted by the General Commanding the Mili- 
tary Division of the Mississippi, followed him to 
the civilian commissioner. I pointed out my prop- 
erty, and General Grant handed the order to the 

The Inside of a Box from Mother 

"Give the boy his box," he said simply. The 
commissioner bowed and I saluted. I wish I could 
imitate that salute now. It was a combination of 
reverence, admiration, kotow and renewed assur- 
ance of a distinguished consideration. Except pos- 
sibly in China, the general never again received 
such an all-comprehensive obeisance. The cigar 
between the fingers swept a half -circle of smoke as 
the Commander, with military punctiliousness, re- 
turned the private's salute, and with a half-smile 
playing under the brown mustache, created, I fear, 
by that all-comprehensive, unprecedented salute of 
mine, he returned to his chair on the cabin deck. 


while the big mate patted my back all the way to 
the gangplank. That's why I love an Irishman. 

And I? I simply unfolded the hidden wings 
which we wear on our feet for such occasions, and 
with a box as big as a field-desk on my shoulders 
flew airily and swiftly to the bower that's what it 
was tents of brushwood of C Company, where I 
held high wassail with my comrades while we 
scraped that box to the bones. First thing, cake; 
then canned things and more cake; desiccated 
things; other kind of cake; condensed milk; 
layer-cake; can of preserves; sponge cake; jar of 
spiced things ; fruit cake ; socks and handkerchiefs ; 
card of gingerbread; assorted things; perfumed 
soap; jelly; cookies; pocket-knife and marble-cake. 
The rest of the box was filled with cake. Mother 
knew what was good for her boy, all right. Didn't 
she raise him? She couldn't tell what physical or 
psychical changes being a warrior might have 
made in him, but she knew that the stomach he took 
away from home with him would last during the 
war. Only the remarkable fact that other moth- 


ers' boys have about the same general kind of stom- 
achs saved me from the hospital that day. And 
just as we scraped the last cake crumbs together, 
all at once, with a unanimous community of senti- 
ment, we remembered the captain. 

Often as I journey to New York I have time to 
go out to the stately mausoleum on Riverside Drive, 
bearing over its portals the message of the great 
captain to the warring world "Let us have peace." 
I stand uncovered as I look at the sarcophagus that 
holds his dust. I think of his greatness and of his 
simplicity. The courage of the soldier, the rare 
abilities of the general, and the gentleness of the 
man. I see him going with a private soldier, and 
hear him, in the voice that could have moved armies 
of half-a-million men, issuing the quiet command 
that gave to a boy a little box of things from 
mother. And that picture harmonizes perfectly 
with all the others. 



'S only two miles ahead of you," shouted 
the cavalryman with the voice of a prophet, mounted 
on a foam-flecked horse, black as midnight. He 
thundered down the column in a whirlwind of yel- 
low dust, stormed with our cheers, for like an echo 
to his words we heard the dull "boom-boom" of a 
distant battery, and we caught the battle madness 
with the dust cast up like the smoke of an incanta- 
tion by those flying hoofs. 

Colonel McClure flung his arms apart in a ges- 
ture of command, and with cheers yet more deaf- 
ening and hearts beating high with anticipation, 
the column broke with orderly disorder as we sprang 
to the preliminary work of destruction. For a 
battle always begins with destruction, before ever 
a shot is fired. 

The colonel's gesture, clearly understood when 


his voice could not be heard, sent us like human 
cyclones leaping at the fences that hemmed the 
road. Such a beautiful country we were march- 
ing through, that summer day. A park for love- 
liness; a granary for fertility. Low hills whose 
wooded crests smiled on the corn-fields that ran 
down to the emerald meadows. A creek meander- 
ing across the plantations, loitering in its broad and 
shallow bends to photograph the white clouds pos- 
ing against the soft turquoise skies; stately old 
plantation homes with their colonial architecture; 
the little villages of negro quarters in the rear; 
pleasant orchards and fragrant gardens. 

How beautiful they were, those sweet old south- 
ern homes ! And dear and fair some of them still 
stand, here and there in the new South, amid the 
rush and clatter of modernity and progress, of 
steam and electricity, gasoline, automobiles and air- 
ships, tourists and promoters and prospectors, iron 
furnaces and coal-mines. Not as scolding protests 
against progress, development and prosperity 
they are too gentle for that. They stand rather 


as beautiful memories of all that was sweetest and 
fairest and best in the Old South. What colonial 
grace in their white-columned verandas. What 
stateliness in the heavy cornice; what welcome of 
hospitality in the spacious doors with their old- 
time "side-lights," and in the sunny smiles of the 
many-windowed front. The shadow of pathos rests 
upon them now, tenderly as the sun-kissed haze 
of Indian-summer days. They temper our nervous 
desire for "newness"; they correct our taste for 
architectural frenzies of many-gabled deformities 
and varicolored creosote "complexions." They are 
of the old order, which, like the Old Guard, dies, 
but never surrenders to modern changes. They 
stood here before the war. They have been del- 
uged with woe. They have been baptized in sor- 
rows, the bitterness and depth of which our north- 
ern homes never knew can not know please God, 
never will know. And some of their anguish have 
been the common sorrows of all homes in war- 
times the heartache of bereaved motherhood; the 
agony of widowhood; the loneliness of the or- 


phaned. The loving Father of us all has made 
the sorrow that is common a healing balm that 
makes holy and tender the bitterness of the cruel 
past. The kisses that rained on the faces of the 
dead have blossomed into the perfumed lilies of 
consolation for the living. 

A June Day Cyclone 

And framing all that picture that lay along 
the line of march that June day, joining and sep- 
arating all the fields with their zigzag embroidery, 
picked out here and there with the greenery of wild 
vines, and stitching in the winding yellow road- 
way as though it were a dusty river, were the old 
rail fences, picturesque in weather-beaten grays 
with the artistic trimmings of clambering festoons 
of leaf and blossom. A moment before our souls 
were drinking in this beauty until a little ache of 
homesickness added the bitter-sweet to the esthetic 
draught. Then, as the wild shouting ended, far 
as the length of the column wound along that road, 
there wasn't a panel of fence to be seen. Not 


one. Months of cheery toil it had taken to fence 
that highway out and shut the green fields in with 
a legal fence "horse high, pig tight and bull 
strong." Now as we picked up our grounded mus- 
kets or took them from the "stack," we looked 
upon an open country. A cyclone could not have 
accomplished the destruction more completely. 

The fences had been a protection to the young 
wheat and the growing corn. They were the de- 
fenders of hungry men and women, of little chil- 
dren, white and black, who would cry for bread 
but for these barriers against marauding foes. 
The crooked lines of the old rail fence wore the 
dignity of high office. But now they were in the 
way. When there is going to be a fight the first 
thing is to prepare the ring. And war demands 
not a pent-up little twenty-four foot, rope-enclosed 
space, but many square miles in which its cham- 
pions may maneuver. Its mighty wrestlers Life 
and Death must have abundant room. You build 
a platform and you construct a ring for your or- 
dinary prize-fighters and wrestlers. But when real 


soldiers are going to give an exhibition of real 
fighting with the bare hand, the cold steel and the 
hot shell, you first destroy the country over which 
they are to fight. You set fire to that dear old 
mansion it would shelter sharpshooters. You 
brush away these protecting fences. They would 
impede the swift sweep of cavalry; they would 
detain a battery ten minutes, and lose a battle ; they 
would throw a line of charging infantry into dis- 

Scientific Destruction Even for the Crows! 

When we saw the colonel's gesture, tired we were, 
thirsty we were, hungry, faint and breathing dust. 
But with the light-hearted glee of schoolboys we 
sprang at those fences a man to a rail and they 
were gone. Sometimes we merely opened the panels 
like gates, leaving the alternate corners standing 
in the re-entrant angles. And the next squirrel 
that came running along his accustomed highway 
would pause bewildered in his up and down career 
along a fence builded entirely of gaps. But if 


there was plenty of time say ten, instead of five, 
minutes down to the level came all the fence. 

That's war. Destruction of innocent and use- 
ful things. Destruction of everything. When we 
tore up a railway, it wasn't enough to demolish it 
so that trains could not go over it. We burned 
the ties. But we made them destroyers of other 
things in their own fiery death. We builded or- 
derly heaps of them because war does not destroy 
like a blind storm that does not know how to de- 
stroy properly war destroys scientifically. On 
top of the ties we laid the iron rails. The heat 
of the fire furnaced the rails to red-whiteness, and 
their own weight compelled them to suicide. They 
bent down in strangling humiliation. Or, if there 
was time, fifteen or twenty minutes longer, men 
seized the ends of the rails with improvised tongues 
of twisted saplings, ran the red center of the rail 
against a tree, and bent it around the oak in a 
glowing knot. The enemy could make a new rail 
in less time than he could straighten out that en- 
tanglement. That's the way war destroys. An 


axiom of war is to leave nothing behind which 
the enemy can possibly use. "The next crow that 
flies across Shenandoah valley," said Phil Sheridan, 
"will have to carry his rations with him." That 
valley was unsurpassed in all the world for beauty 
and fertility. But it was also a granary and depot 
of supplies for the Confederate armies in Virginia. 
And when Sheridan rode down from Winchester 
town he was going to war. And war is destruction. 

Don't censure Sheridan. That was civilized war. 
It is easy enough to say "barbarous," "brutal," 
"savage." For with all its ameliorations it remains 
war. As long as Christian nations justify war, 
they justify everything that it is and everything 
that it does. There is no such thing as a Chris- 
tian war. Genghis Khan waged war about as 
Richard Cceur de Leon did. The Crusades were 
nearly as cruel as the marches of Attila. The 
invader is more destructive because of his greater 

The old German word for war meant "confu- 
sion." An old English word for it was "worse," 


as though it was worse than the worst thing you 
could name. It gives mourning for joy; ashes 
for beauty ; the spirit of heaviness for the garment 
of praise. Law, a thing most sacred to our high 
civilization, is dethroned; the Sabbath is despised; 
Mercy is buffeted; Pity is struck in the pleading, 
tear-stained face of her. If another man doesn't 
dress as you do, he is worthy of death. If you 
say to him "Shibboleth," and he replies "Shibbo- 
leth," drive your bayonet through him. They did 
that at the fords of Jordan, three thousand years 
ago, and we haven't improved very much on the 
principle. That's war. 

The Pitiless Wreck of Money and Men 

War destroys everything. At one time it was 
costing the United States a million dollars a day 
to fight for its life. And what became of the 
million dollars? Destroyed. Burned up and bro- 
ken to pieces. Gunpowder, wagons, cannon, tents, 
guns, drums, clothing. Burned to ashes, ground 
to dust ; trampled in the mud ; thrown into the river. 


The broken musket is not mended; it is smashed 
against a tree to make the slight injury complete 
destruction. If the soldier's overcoat is a burden, 
he first tears it to pieces before he throws it away. 
The overturned cannon is abandoned; the broken- 
down wagon is burned; the lame mule is turned 
out to starve; the wounded horse is left to die in 
lingering agony there isn't even time to shoot 
him. The injured arm or wounded leg that would 
be saved at home is amputated in rough haste. 
War can't even take care of its heroes properly. 
In the terror of defeat the wounded are left moan- 
ing on the field at the mercy of the night, the 
storm and the enemy. The hospital that tries to 
care for the sick and wounded feeds the grave much 
more than does the battle-field. 

Even when it seems to spare, war destroys. A 
man's right arm is torn away at the elbow by a 
shattering fragment of shell. He is only twenty 
years old. And as they carry him back to the 
field hospital he thinks of the long years of life 
stretching out before him. Another young soldier 


lies on the operating table, and with set teeth and 
grim visage watches an attendant carry his am- 
putated legs away to common burial with the 
ghastly debris of the hospital tent. A cripple for 
life a helpless burden. And he is a farmer! A 
surgeon bends over another man to say cheerfully 
in cheery tones of encouragement: "You had the 
closest call a man could have and not answer it. 
But you're all right; you'll live!" 

But the soldier knows that he will live in dark- 
ness, for the bullet that spared his life when it 
swept across his face put out its light forever. 
He'll never be the man he was before. War has 
destroyed him. Even the tender mercies of war 
are cruel. 

Oh, I have seen war breaking men to pieces in 
this brutal fashion, as I have seen you with your 
switching cane behead the daisies laughing up into 
your face beside the meadow path. I have seen 
a soldier rise from a piano in a burning house, 
where he had been singing Mother Kissed Me in 
My Dream till our hearts were tender, and smash 


the ivory keys, blessed by the caressing touches 
of some woman's tender hands, with the butt of 
his musket. Why? Just to smash them. That's 
the way the war spirit transforms the hearts of 
men, good, gentle-hearted men like your father, 
who was in my company; like David, who, in the 
sweet sunshine and shadows of the quiet sheep pas- 
tures sang, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow 
me all the days of my life," and then in war time 
massacred the people of Rabbah, torturing "them 
under saws, and under harrows of iron, and axes 
of iron." That's war. 



WHENEVER I think of him, there comes into my 
memory the lines of Guy McMaster in The Old 

"Then the old-fashioned colonel 
Galloped through the white infernal 

Powder cloud; 

And his broad sword was swinging 
And his brazen throat was ringing 

Trumpet loud! 

Then the blue 

Bullets flew, 

And the trooper- jackets redden 
At the touch of the leaden 

Rifle breath; 

And rounder, rounder, rounder, 
Roared the iron six-pounder 

Breathing death!" 

That was "the old-fashioned colonel." He may 
not have been especially scientific, but he was a 


terrific fighter, and after all, if fighting isn't the 
science, it is the business of war. 

Because the Forty-seventh was a fighting regi- 
ment, it marched and fought, first and last, under 
five colonels, all of them "old-fashioned." John 
Bryner, our first colonel, who marched away from 
Peoria with us in 1861 ; he died in the service, 
being reappointed colonel of the reorganized regi- 
ment in 1865; William A. Thrush, killed at the 
head of his regiment at the battle of Corinth, Octo- 
ber 3, 1862 ; John N. Cromwell, killed at Jackson, 
Mississippi, May 16, 1863, our boy colonel; John 
Dickson McClure, wounded nigh to death in the 
siege of Vicksburg, June 20, 1863; Daniel L. 
Miles, lieutenant-colonel, killed in the battle of 
Farmington, Mississippi; David W. Magee, colo- 
nel in 1865. My colonels rode close up to the 

The relation of the colonel to his regiment was 

not merely that of a military commander. In the 

days of which I write, at least, it was paternal. 

He was the father of the regiment. Our most 



affectionate title for him was the "Old Man." 
Youth could not save him from this if we loved 
him. He did not receive this mark of honor and 
affection until we had tried him out for a few weeks, 
and had been at least once under fire with him. 
Then, if we decided that he would do, we began 
calling him "the old man," in much the same in- 
tonation of affectionate confidence with which a 
boy calls his father "daddy." 

When We Had a "Regular" 

I suppose there are boys who never call their 
paternal parent anything but father, boys who 
would be whipped for calling him daddy. I always 
feel sorry for the father. And there have been colo- 
nels who would not tolerate the familiarity of "the 
old man." But I think they were colonels of militia. 
I never knew a fighting colonel who didn't like it. 

We once had the honor of being commanded by 

a "regular." And it was an honor. Our regular 

colonel was Captain George A. Williams, whose 

battery of big guns the regiment supported in 



the battle of Corinth, where the captain won his 
majority for "gallant and meritorious service." 
He was appointed to command of the Forty-seventh 
in November, 186, because our old colonel, Miles 
Thrush, was dead, shot through the heart at Cor- 
inth, in front of Williams' guns, and our new colo- 
nel, Cromwell, was a prisoner of war, captured 
at luka. We were "good boys," very fond of 
having our own way, and for some reason General 
Grant seemed to think that the fatherly discipline 
of a West Pointer would be good for our morale, 
and therefore appointed Major Williams. 

We liked the "regular," who had been appointed 
to the Academy from New York in 185, and was 
retired a colonel, I think, in 1870. We called him 
"the old man" after three days' service under him. 
The way of it was this. It was always desirable 
to "try out" a new colonel before he got too firmly 
seated in the saddle. One of the men of my own 
company detailed himself to trot a trial heat with 
the West Pointer just to find out what there was 
in the colt. He refused to go on a certain detail 


ordered by the sergeant, adding to his curt refusal 
that it took a bigger man than himself to make 
him do what he didn't want to do. As "Jacky" 
was the kind of man whose fists were in active 
accord with his word, the rather prudent sergeant 
who happened to be on duty that morning referred 
the soldier's insubordination to the company com- 
mander. This officer, who knew how Jacky had 
scandalized the company on one or two similar 
occasions by surrounding the entire non-commis- 
sioned force, ordered the sergeant to convey his 
prisoner to the new colonel. 

Colonel Williams was a handsome, soldierly ap- 
pearing man, with a smile that was as alluring as 
it was deceiving. He looked pleasant when the 
sergeant preferred his charge, and the prisoner 
promptly confirmed it, saying that the detail as- 
signed him looked too much like work, and he didn't 
enlist to work. 

Jacky Allowed to Play 

The smile on the face of the colonel brightened. 


"No," he said, that was true. No soldier liked to 
work. He was not overly fond of work himself, 
although he was sometimes compelled to do very 
hard, disagreeable things. "So," he concluded, 
"since you dislike work, you shall play all day." 
Under instructions, the sergeant marked out a 
circle on the parade ground about twenty feet in 
diameter. The soldier who didn't like to work was 
given a log of fire-wood about six feet long and 
heavier that a knapsack full of stones. Guards 
were set and regularly relieved, and the prisoner 
began his play-day by walking around that circle 
with his burden. All day long, from guard mount 
in the morning to dress parade in the evening, he 
lugged that load of fuel. The guards, who now 
stood in terror of this new sort of good-natured 
colonel who wouldn't stand the least bit of any 
sort of foolishness, and who smiled like a seraph 
when he put a man on the treadmill, were afraid 
to permit the prisoner to halt when he ate his 
dinner, which the cook brought to him on a tin 
plate. The sentry allowed him to lay down his 


burden while he ate, "But," he said, "you've got 
to keep walkin' !" And walk he did, wearily shift- 
ing the log from aching shoulder to aching 
shoulder. He was released after dress parade. 

Instead of throwing the heavy log down gladly 
and indignantly, he stooped and laid it on the 
ground as though it was a sleeping baby. "If 
I had thrown it down as hard as I wanted," he 
afterward explained, "I would have broken it into 
half a dozen pieces, and there's no telling what 
the old man" he had learned that during his march 
"would do with me then. ... I reckon," he 
said as he rolled into his blanket that night, "that I 
toted that fuel train twenty miles to-day, and never 
got half a mile from where I started." 

Colonel Williams was christened "the old man" 
that day. We liked him immensely. He knew how 
to get things for the regiment that volunteer offi- 
cers didn't know how to ask for. "The old man," 
said Corporal Lapham, "knows how to get things 
the other colonels don't know the Government's 
got." He made us dress better, stand better, keep 


neater, behave more soldierly and jump more 
promptly at an order. He fed us better, got more 
new uniforms and blankets for us, stocked the hos- 
pital with more and better supplies. We liked him, 
we obeyed him, we were just a little bit afraid of 
him, and we were genuinely sorry when he went 
back to his own command. Soldiers do love a colo- 
nel with a bite right close behind his bark. Why 
else should he be a colonel? "I like the rooster," 
said that quaint old philosopher, Josh Billings, 
"for two things: for the crow that is in him, and 
for the spurs he wears to back up the crow with." 
A crow without spurs is a blank cartridge. 

Because of this paternal responsibility with 
which the men invested him, the colonel of a vol- 
unteer regiment was burdened with a hundred and 
one things that should never have reached him. 
We went to him with complaints that should have 
stopped short at the sergeants, or at the furthest 
never passed beyond the captain. But we felt that 
we had a right to see "the old man" about every- 
thing. As a rule he listened to us, although more 


than half our wrongs were imaginary, and the other 
half of our hardships were either richly deserved 
or inseparable from the soldier's life. Happy the 
colonel with a sense of humor to sit on the judg- 
ment seat beside him. Once upon a time we sent 
a delegation of three men to complain of the fear- 
ful quality of the company cooking. 

The Committee's Unexpected Success 

The colonel agreed with us without tasting the 
samples of food we brought along. "Yes," he 
said, "you have a wretched cook. I am going to 
detail him to cook at regimental headquarters, 
where I can watch him. I'll transfer him imme- 

The committee came back with faces of conster- 
nation and reported. A roar of indignant remon- 
strance went up from the assembled rank and file. 
"What! Take away Billy Wanser! Take away 
the only man in the regiment who knew how to 
cook? The only man who never had a meal late? 
The man who caught up with the company in the 


rain and mud ahead of the supply trains? The 
only cook in the regiment who came out on the 
battle-field with hot coffee ? Take away Billy Wan- 
ser ? Not over our dead bodies !" And we hastened 
to Colonel McClure's headquarters in a uniformed 
mob to denounce the unfortunate delegation whom 
we had sent there half an hour before, as a self- 
appointed squad of malcontents who deserved to 
be starved. And the colonel agreed with us and 
said he would put in irons the next man who dared 
slander our matchless cook. 

Of all the colonels under whom I served, Colonel 
f john D. McClure was my ideal. A man with a 
strong figure and a strong face, a man's voice, 
deep and commanding; clear steady eyes, that 
shone with the kindliest glow that ever turned into 
a steely gleam when they looked through the shuf- 
fling excuses of a skulker. He was captain of 
Company C when I enlisted. When he reached 
the colonelcy by successive merited promotions, the 
men of C Company called him "the old man" be- 
fore he put on his new uniform. He was as kind- 


hearted with his men as a good teacher is with 
children. If a question of discipline trembled un- 
certainly in the balances, mercy always tipped the 
scale with a gentle touch of her lightest finger 
but it was enough. He was at the side of a 
sick or wounded soldier as quickly as surgeon or 
chaplain could reach the sufferer, and there was 
encouragement and consolation in the deep voice 
of the colonel. Under fire, his calmness was con- 
tagious. His courage rose above excitement. 
There was none of the hysteria of battle about 
him. He was never a "noisy" colonel, though his 
shouted orders reached every man in the regiment, 
and "his brazen throat rang trumpet loud" in lead- 
ing line or column. I never heard him use a pro- 
fane expression. He was gentle as he was brave; 
quiet as he was manly. The regiment loved him 
because he was of lovable quality. Once, while 
we were in quarters at La Grange, Tennessee, his 
young wife came down to the front to see her 
husband. Virginia Cunningham as sweet and 
beautiful as her husband was noble. She and I 


had been schoolmates in the Peoria High School. 
And if in those days of childhood dreamings I 
had ever prophesied that one day she would marry 
my colonel and thereby share his authority to say 
to me "Come" and "Go," we would have laughed 
over it as the merriest bit of fiction an unbridled 
imagination could devise for a summer day's fool- 
ing. But that was just what happened. 

Gentle he was, and kind-hearted. But we all 
knew there was but one law in the regiment. That 
was the colonel's word. It was quietly spoken, as 
was his way, in counsel or on the field. There 
was no fulmineous profanity to emphasize it and 
no Jacksonian appeals to heaven to confirm it. But 
it was respected. His quietness magnified his firm- 
ness and courage. His "gentleness made him 




ONE June morning in 1863 we were ordered to 
report at Fort Pillow in parade accouterments to 
see three men shot. 

Here was a novelty in our military experience. 
We expected to see men shot every time we went 
out. We had seen them shot by scores and hun- 
dreds in the sharpshooting of the skirmish line 
and in the fearful volleying of the line of battle, 
by musket and by artillery, but never before had 
we received instructions to march out and, with 
empty muskets, to form in the square of parade 
and witness the official shooting of three of our 

This was a new kind of killing. I know that not 
a man in my regiment had ever witnessed a mili- 
tary execution. I doubt very much if a soldier in 


tlie entire division had ever seen such a thing. 
There was a chill in it that doesn't come with the 
ordinary death of a soldier. We knew there were 
crimes against military discipline and soldierly 
righteousness that were punishable by death, but 
it had never come near to us never so near as this. 
I had seen men punished before the regiment for 
the crime of desertion. I had watched them while 
the corporal cut the brass buttons from their uni- 
forms to destroy, as far as possible, every vestige 
of the soldierly uniform the culprit had disgraced. 
Then I watched them shave one-half his head down 
to the white and glistening scalp, and so tragic 
was the picture that it did not look grotesque; 
though ordinarily one would laugh at such a thing. 
I had heard his sentence read; then, as the fife 
shrilled and the drums played the lively measures 
of the Rogue's March, the culprit followed the 
corporal's guard down the front of the line. Here, 
at the right of it, he halted, saluted his colonel, 
and it was his duty to thank him for the just pun- 
ishment that had been meted out to him. 


In the only case in which I ever was a witness, 
however, the dishonorably discharged soldier yelled 
at the top of his lungs : "I am a civilian now ! To 
hell with you and your shoulder-straps! I am as 
good a man as you are !" And the colonel had the 
grace not to add punishment to the punishment 
already inflicted on the man maddened by the sting 
of humiliation. The man disappeared from the 
camp that night. What became of him afterward 
I never knew. 

But here was a case of capital punishment in 
that great organization of the army that was 
formed and drilled and trained to administer capi- 
tal punishment to the enemies of the republic. 
Every man in a hostile uniform who leveled his 
musket at the Stars and Stripes adjudged himself 
guilty of treason and sentenced himself to death. 

But all this in the heat of battle. This with the 
blood hot and the pulses throbbing and the stress 
of conflict knotting every muscle and stretching 
every nerve to a tension like a harp-string. What 
we were to witness this beautiful June morning in 


the suburbs of the busy city of Memphis was some- 
thing entirely different. 

Three men were to be punished to death for an 
offense not only against military discipline and 
soldierly good conduct, but for an offense recog- 
nized as gross under the civic law, an offense 
against civic righteousness and morality; an of- 
fense aggravated by the circumstances surround- 
ing its commission. It seemed strange to me, as I 
put on my accouterments, that we were to shoot 
these men for an offense against the civil law for 
which the civil law provided no capital punish- 

The three condemned men had occupied one of 
the most responsible positions in which a soldier is 
ever placed. Just outside the city a few miles they 
were on picket duty. They had the keeping of the 
city's garrison and the surrounding camp in their 
care. They possessed authority equal to that of 
an officer. They were to scrutinize every person 
who came and went. 

About mid-afternoon there came from the city 


to the post of these three pickets a southern farmer, 
his wife and their grown daughter a young 
woman. Their pass, signed by General Hurlbut, 
was correct, and they were told to pass through by 
the soldier who read it and the corporal who looked 
over his shoulder. It was simply an incident of 
the day. A few moments later, when these citizens 
had passed but a few miles farther on, the old man 
returned, having met with an accident. He had 
broken a wheel so badly that he could not repair it. 
He must go back into the city and secure the help 
of a wheelwright. When he had explained the condi- 
tions to the soldiers they gave their permission and 
he went back into the city, leaving his wife and 
daughter a few miles beyond the lines, but under 
the protection of this picket guard, than which 
they should have had no stronger protection. Then 
the devil got into the hearts of these men. Bad 
men they may have been wicked men, base men, 
but they had been good soldiers else they had not 
been placed in the responsible position of picket 
guard on lines so close to the city. Through what 


lines of discussion they came to their cruel and foul 
decision I do not know. When a man palters with 
his duty he is always on the way to betray it. 
They took the first false step. They abandoned 
their duty and hurried out along the road where 
the disabled wagon was waiting the return of its 
owner. There upon the persons of these helpless 
women, confided absolutely to the protecting care 
and honor of these soldiers, whose wards they tem- 
porarily were, they committed a crime, to a woman 
worse than death, doubly horrible from the fact 
that the victims of the lust of these soldiers were 
mother and daughter. 

In the course of an hour the man returned. The 
wife and daughter told him of the horror that had 
befallen them. Straightaway he walked back into 
the city, not asking permission this time, as he 
knew the soldiers would not dare to refuse it, and 
reported to the proper officers what had transpired 
on this picket post. An arresting party marched 
out, the three soldiers were taken off duty, dis- 
armed, taken back to the guard-house and placed 


in irons to await the promptness of a military trial, 
a drumhead court martial. Their foul offense was 
set forth quickly and their guilt was proven. The 
unanimous decision of the court martial was that 
they were guilty of a crime punishable by death 
and they were sentenced with little delay. 

Punctuality is a military virtue. We did not 
wait long in parade formation for the fearsome 
event of the morning. All about us were gathered, 
in the rear of the uniformed ranks, the motley mob 
of the city, white and black. Busy hucksters were 
plying their trade, hawking their wares of sand- 
wiches, little cakes and coffee, seeking to make their 
profits at the gates of sudden death. 


There was a good deal of talk in the ranks as 
we stood at rest. The seriousness of the affair did 
not seem to oppress the men. They were not de- 
pressed. There was a unanimity of approval of 
the justice of the sentence. There was wrath in 
the tones in which many of the men condemned the 


offense of the culprits. All true soldiers felt the 
shame and disgrace that had stained the United 
States uniform. We felt that in their crime some- 
how they had smirched the rest of us. 

The three men were cavalrymen members, if I 
remember correctly at this late date, of the Third 
New Jersey Cavalry and I can remember so well 
how so many of the men congratulated one another 
and themselves that the offense had been committed 
by an eastern regiment; for we insisted that the 
native chivalry common to the western men would 
have held them back from the commission of such 
a crime. We surmised that these men were not 
true types of the eastern soldier. From the pur- 
lieus of Jersey City, from the slums of Hoboken, 
from the overcrowded districts of Paterson, we 
said they had come. It was rather a shock to our 
satisfied philosophizing to remember afterward 
that one of these men was a farmer's boy. Vice 
does not mark its boundary lines by the streets of 
city wards or the lanes of the country. 

One man, I remember, excused the farmer's lad. 



Some man from the mighty wheat country of Min- 
nesota wanted to know defiantly what you could 
expect of a man brought up to call a ten-acre 
Jersey truck patch a farm. And this excuse being 
better than none, we all agreed with him that the 
man's environment and training were bad. 

There was a burst of military music not the 
wail of the fifes, intoned by the monotonous roll of 
the muffled drums, touching the heartstrings with 
the thrill and pathos of the old, old dead march, 
with its plaintiff measures that had endeared itself 
to thousands of hearts on either side of the sea 
when, with honor and sorrow, we buried our dead 
who died like men, who died on duty brave sol- 
diers with clean hands and loyal hearts. It could 
not be degraded to such a service as this. But the 
band played mournful strains of a march that 
seemed to emphasize not only sorrow, but shame. 

Came the band into the square, wheeling sharply 

to the right, and marched down the three sides of 

the open square. Upon the orders gruffly shouted 

by the colonels, barked by their men down the lines, 



with the rattle of musketry and the jingle of accou- 
terments, the troop came to attention. Behind the 
band marched the guard; and we knew even then 
that they marched, not as at the ordinary funeral 
of a soldier with arms reversed, but with fixed 
bayonets and pieces at the "carry" a guard on 
duty ; men with stern faces, officers with rigid lips. 
Behind the guard rode the colonel commanding the 
regiment to which these men had belonged. Then 
came two battalions of their own regiment the 
only troops of the organization then in Memphis. 
For our cavalry regiments were often cut up into 
small detachments doing scout service for infantry 
garrisons and columns. The men carried their car- 
bines in the slings. Their sabers were drawn, lean- 
ing with glistening brightness against the shoul- 
ders of the troopers. The hoof -beats of the horses 
fell with a muffled sound on the turf, and the jingle 
of bit and spur carried a military accompaniment 
to the cadences of the band. 

Following the regiment of the disgraced men 
came an army ambulance with the cover removed. 


Sitting on the coffin in the ambulance was one of 
the condemned men; kneeling beside him, a chap- 
lain. A second ambulance brought its burden of 
condemnation ; and a third. Two of the men were 
Roman Catholics, and chaplains of their own faith 
attended them priests of the church that never 
lets go of a man once she has held him in the faith 
of her communion, but to the very gates of death 
carries her assurance of pardon on repentance and 
confession, and grants the indulgence of sins for- 
given through the plenary power and authority 
of the priest who represents that great church. 
The third man was a Protestant, and a chaplain 
from one of the infantry regiments knelt beside 

Marching slowly down the sides of the parade, 
all voices now stilled, not only by the command of 
military discipline, but by the awe of the occasion, 
the death march led the way of the procession. As 
the condemned men passed near to us we saw how 
white and set the faces were. On the battle-field 
they would have met death with flushed faces and 


kindling eyes the bearing of brave men. They 
were going to a dishonorable death, and shame cov- 
ered every face as with a garment. 

Under the walls of the fort, on the open side 
of the parade, three graves were dug, like trenches, 
in a little line. The men dismounted from the 
wagons, details of soldiers carried the coffins ; each 
was deposited on the side of the grave farthest 
from the troop, between the edge of that awful 
cavern of darkness and that little mound of earth. 
Details of soldiers bound the feet and the arms of 
the men fast the arms behind them and they 
sat down, each on his own coffin, facing his com- 

A lieutenant read in brief summary the story of 
the crime as brought out by the court martial. He 
read the finding of the court and the sentence, and, 
finally, the military order of the colonel command- 
ing the execution, indorsed by the signature of the 
commanding general. 

From the left of the condemned regiment now 
marched a detachment of thirty dismounted troop- 


ers with their sabers sheathed, holding their car- 
bines at a carry. They were formed in front of 
the condemned men, standing between the graves 
and the troops a detachment of ten men facing 
each prisoner. There was a final word from the 
chaplains to the men. The chaplains, retiring, 
took their places far to the left of the coffins, out 
of range of the firing party. In a voice so low that 
it could not reach us (we only knew what it was 
because we knew what it must be) the order was 
given, "Load at will." The cartridges were placed 
in the carbines. 

There stood now between the condemned men 
and the soldiers just the firing party. Off to the 
right, and in front of them, stood the officer in 
charge. The execution was conducted in deathly 
silence. The officer drew a white handkerchief 
from the breast of his uniform jacket and held it 
in the air. We heard, following the gesture, the 
clickety click of thirty carbine hammers. With a 
dull thud the butts of the carbines were lifted 
against the shoulders of the firing party, for that 


gesture said "Aim !" The officer unclasped his fin- 
gers. The handkerchief fluttered to the ground 
like a beautiful snow-white butterfly, the Japanese 
emblem of the soul. With the sound of one musket 
the carbines rattled their deadly volley. 


I expected to see the men on the coffins leap to 
their death. One of them swayed, indeed, drunk- 
enly, first to the left and then to the right, and fell 
on his side on his coffin. The second one bowed 
slowly forward, falling with his face on the ground. 
The third one swayed backward, as gently as 
though some unseen hand had pressed him, and 
lay with his feet across the lid of his casket, his 
head and body hidden from our view. A sergeant 
stepped briskly forward and stood for a moment 
stooping over the face of each man. He turned 
to the officer commanding the firing party and 
made his report. Each man had been struck and 
fatally. The wages of sin had been paid. 

A shouted command from the colonel of this 


regiment, and that, and that, and with the staccato 
repetition of the command from the line officers, 
the troops wheeled into column. The drum corps 
of the regiments, taking the place of the now silent 
band, struck up a lively marching air and, timing 
our steps to some well-known marching tune, we 
were hurried back to our respective quarters. 

I remember well, with a certain reckless, sol- 
dierly sense of grotesque suggestiveness, our own 
fifes and drums led us, half marching, half danc- 
ing, back to our parade-ground to the merry steps 
of A Rocky Road to Dublin. It was the reac- 
tion. It was the setting of the lesson. It was the 
moral of the true fable we had just witnessed 
the inevitable "Haec fabula docet"; "This fable 
teaches." The band was chanting, in staccato 
measures and rollicking time, the proper "reces- 
sional," Lest We Forget. That was the tune. 
A Rocky Road to Dublin was the hymn. "The 
Way of the Transgressor Is Hard" was the collect. 
The service was ended. 



WHAT happened next was this: 

The orderly sergeant, Dexter M. Camp, came to 
me with his little book in his hand and said : 

"Burdette, make yourself look neat and smart. 
You are detailed for funeral service, and will be one 
of the escort. Report at once to Corporal David- 

A funeral? I had been in the army then more 
than a year. I had helped to bury the dead on 
more than one battle-field. But I had never attended 
a funeral. I knew that my comrade was dead. 
And I knew of course that he would be buried that 
day. But it had never occurred to me that he 
would have a funeral. 

When we buried Private John Taylor, of C 
Company, the Forty-seventh Regiment of Illinois 
Infantry, War, who slew him, demanded that we, 


whom he might also slay as opportunity offered, 
pay due and formal reverence to one of his dead. 
We should observe the ritual to the letter. Him- 
self, in glittering helmet shadowed with sable 
plumes, would review the funeral procession, and 
give to the occasion the environment of pomp and 
glory which the dead man could never have won had 
he passed away in his quiet home in La Salle 

So the sergeant detailed six pall-bearers, of the 
dead soldier's own rank, and an escort of eight pri- 
vates under command of Corporal Davidson. 

When the commanding general is buried, the 
minute guns boom their salute from sunrise until 
the march to the grave begins. Officers of high 
rank are selected for pall-bearers and escort. 

When the colonel dies, his entire regiment fol- 
lows its dead leader to his grave, even as it fol- 
lowed him to his death. 

For the dead captain, his company marches as 
his escort. 

And when we buried Private John Taylor, we 


followed the "Regulations" in the detail of pall- 
bearers and escort. All the non-commissioned offi- 
cers of the company were required to follow the 
detail, and when the commissioned officers attended 
the funeral, they marched in the inverse order of 
their rank the escort, the privates, corporals, 
sergeants, lieutenants, and in the rear of all, the 

When the platoon was formed, the pall-bearers 
carried the body down in front of it. The corporal 
gave the order 

"Present ! arms !" 

"The Land o 9 the Leal" 

An honor never accorded the living private. You 
see, Death is a king. And when he holds high 
court, he ennobles the soldier upon whom he has 
set his signet of distinction. When the body of the 
dead colonel is carried before the regiment, the 
lieutenant-colonel gives this same order. The regi- 
ment pays to the colonel the same honor no higher 


which the escort of eight men paid to Private 
Taylor. Death levels to the rank of the soldier al 1 
titles and grades of authority or nobility. "Dust 
to dust." 

The pall-bearers, having halted to receive this 
honor to their burden, carried the body to the right 
of the line. Again the corporal's voice 

"Carry arms! Platoon, left wheel march! 

"Reverse arms ! Forward, guide right march !" 

The dull flam of the muffled drums draped in 
crape gave our steps the time. Then the wailing 
fifes lifted the plaintive notes of the dead march, 
which was oftener than any other The Land o 9 the 
Leal, and the drums beat mournfully in the long 
roll with the cadences that emphasized its measures 
and moved our marching feet in the slow rhythm 
of the dirge. 

Somehow the sunshine seemed dim and misty as 

the muffled drums spoke mournfully. Our slow 

steps seemed to be timed not only by the throbbing 

drums but by the heart-breaking sobs in a far-away 



northern home. The fifes filled the air with tears. 
The sweet voices of women, tremulous with sorrow, 
blended with the music of the march 

"Ye were aye leal an' true, Jean, 
Your task's ended noo, Jean, 
And I'll welcome you 

In the land o' the Leal." 

Women? He had not kissed a woman since he 
left the little home in Illinois. That was one thing 
that made the old Scotch melody ache with its 
plaintive wailing. When he was so patiently wres- 
tling with death in the loneliness of his tent, a 
woman's voice speaking his name had sounded to 
him like the blessing of God. So much of love, 
and tenderness, and longing prayer, and minister- 
ing touches of gentle hands centers about a death- 
bed at one's home. 

When a Soldier Dies 

But the soldier? His last looks upon his kind on 
earth were bent upon bronzed or bearded faces. 
Hands that would minister to him in his growing 


weakness were hard and calloused with the toil of 
war, and scented with the odor of the cartridges 
they had handled. Kindly faces, yes; but they 
shrank, man fashion, from trying to look too sym- 
pathetic; the voices were hearty and frank and 
jovial. Men are awkward in the sick-room, and a 
soldier resents being "coddled." A soldier's death 
is one of the saddest things on earth. 

To die, and know that in his home voices were 
laughing and hearts were light. They were talk- 
ing merrily over some jesting line in the last letter 
from him; they were counting the months against 
his return; they were planning such singing fes- 
tivities when he came home 

And it would be days, days, days before they 
would know that he had gone Home, and was wait- 
ing for them. What would be the measure of their 
sorrow, bereaved of the mementos of death for 
which we long? His dying kiss; his last spoken 
word, with its message of infinite tenderness and 
love; the name that last lingered in a whisper on 
his lips ; the look that lighted up his face just be- 


fore he closed his eyes the peace that God lov- 
ingly printed on his tired face these things they 
would never know. For even we, his comrades, 
who would have died for him, were not with him 
when he passed away. "We could not be with him" 
when, in the loneliness of a soldier's death, he 
passed from that little shelter tent into the splendor 
of the building that hath foundations. 

These were the things with which our thoughts 
were busied as, with "arms reversed," we followed 
the throbbing drums and the wailing fifes. Our 
hearts were heavier than the burden on the bier, 
and but for the shame of a noble thing our tears 
had dropped fast as the beats of the muffled drums. 
The drums; in their sad monotones they seemed 
like the pattering of a woman's tears upon the coffin 
lid. They modulated the shrill grief of the com- 
plaining fifes, as the heavy voice of a man, tremu- 
lous with a common affliction, soothes the pleading 
anguish of a heart-broken woman. 

That was forty-nine years ago. But I had the 
heart of a boy, sensitive to all impressions. And 


to-day I can feel the ache coming into my eyes 
when I hear the crying of the fifes and the sobbing 
of the muffled drums. 

"There's nae sorrow there, Jean, 
There's neither cauld nor care, Jean, 
The day is aye fair, 

In the Land o' the Leal." 

We reach the grave. Wailing fifes and sobbing 
drums are silent. The platoon is halted. 

"Right wheel into line march ! Carry arms !" 

The bearers bring the coffin down the front of the 
line, halting in the center. Again the corporal 

"Present arms ! Carry arms !" 

The coffin is rested beside the grave. 

"Rest on arms!" 

The muskets are reversed, the muzzles resting on 
the left foot; the hands of the soldier are crossed 
on the butt; the head is bowed on the hands; the 
right knee slightly bent. 

The chaplain steps to the front and center. Here 
he is greater than the colonel. He reads from a 
Book the only Book men read from at such a 


time. It is a soldier's Book. The first words of 
the chaplain ring out over that open grave like 
the glorious triumph of victorious bugles the 
trumpets of the Conqueror 

"I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that 
believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; 
and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never 


The Cry of Victory at the Grave 

Splendid! Magnificent! Right soldierly! "In 
the midst of death we are in life !" That is the way 
to read it. Read on, brave chaplain ! Oh, I never 
stand beside an open grave that I do not see the 
Son of God standing on the other side of that nar- 
row chasm of shadows, in the resplendent beauty 
and glory of the perfect Life. I hear him calling 
across to us: "I am the Resurrection, and the 
Life!" "I am he that liveth and was dead, and 
behold I am alive forever more !" I would not qual- 
ify by the slightest shading my absolute belief in 
that glorious teaching of the Living Christ, I 


would not exchange one positive word of it, for the 
most perfect comprehension of all the cleverest 
guesses and most brilliant doubts of all the wisest 
scholars that all the ages have brought forth in 
this world of human theories and mistakes and re- 
statements, conjecture and hypothesis. I did not 
doubt it that day, with the bearers holding the dead 
man on their shoulders before me ; I have never for 
one moment doubted it since. When I get to Heaven 
I will be no more certain of it than I am now. 

Over the body of the dead soldier the chaplain 
lifts our souls in prayer to the Living God. He 
steps to his place at the right of the platoon. The 
corporal commands 

"Attention! Carry arms! Load at will load!" 

The rattle of rammers and the clicking of the 

"Ready Aim Fire !" 

Thrice the salute is fired over the soldier's grave. 
The clouds of blue smoke, the incense of war, drift 
slowly skyward above the open grave, as though. 


they might carry with them the soul of the dead, 
obeying the call of the resurrection. 

"Carry arms! By platoon, right wheel 

"Forward, guide left march!" 

The somber crape has been removed from the 
mourning drums. The rattling snares are tightly 
stretched. Clear and shrill as lark-songs the merry 
fifes trill out the joyous measures of A Rocky 
Road to Dublin; the stirring drums put the tingle 
into our half -dancing toes and the spring into our 
heels; "Right shoulder shift 'em!" jocularly calls 
the corporal, and with laughter and chatter we 
march back to camp, and life, and joy, and duty, 
and death "all in the three years !" 

Had we, then, forgotten him so quickly ? Forget 
the comrade who had shared our duties, our priva- 
tions, our hardships, our perils? It was nearly fifty 
years ago that we fired our "farewell shot" over 
that grave, and a little ache creeps into my heart 
with the thought of him to-day. 

It isn't a good thing for a soldier, who every day 


must face death in some measure, to be depressed 
in spirit. It unfits him for his duties. The trill- 
ing fifes and the merry drums are not to make us 
forget. They are to remind us that we must be 
ready for every duty, cheery and brave and faith- 
ful. The music of the camp never dims the mem- 
ory of the comrade who had been called to higher 
duty. It's the way of the camp, and of the busy 
world, and it's a good way. I do not believe in 
wearing mourning for the dead, yet no man loves 
his friends more dearly than I. I would not say 
of my loved ones, when they pass on to the perfect 
life, "They make me gloomy every time I think of 
them. As a token of my feelings toward them, I 
darken my sunshine with these sable garments of 
the night." 

The origin of wearing mourning garments was 
not to express sorrow, or reverence. The peculiar 
garb was assumed to warn all persons that the 
wearer was "unclean" from contact with the dead, 
and was therefore to be avoided, as a leper is 



"Fall in for roll-call! Attention!" 

The living respond to their names. The ser- 
geant calls the details. This man for camp-guard ; 
this one for picket ; this one to hew wood ; that one 
to draw water; you to go forth to battle; you to 
minister to the hospital ; you to abide in your tent, 
waiting to be called. 

And the dead, having achieved their full duty, 
sleep sweetly and quietly, waiting to hear Him say, 
"I am the Resurrection, and the Life." 




SILENCE, and the darkness before the dawn. 
Across the meadows, through fields of trampled 
grain, and far down the aisles of the forest, the 
stacked muskets mark the multiplied lines of the 
bivouac, broken here and there by the dark squares 
where the batteries are parked. Along all the lines 
the camp-fires smolder in their ashes. Across the 
velvet blackness of the sky the starry battalions 
march in the stately order of a million years 
squadrons of the glory of God. Now and then, 
as a bearded veteran might lightly and smilingly 
touch the shoulder of a little child, playing at war, 
proud of his toy gun and paper epaulet, a great 
star that has flamed the splendor of the Almighty 
since time began, touches with a flash of golden 


light the bayonet of a sentinel, guarding the slum- 
bers of his wearied comrades. Tired as the weari- 
est of them, his own eyes burn and his body aches 
for sleep, but Honor on his right side and Fidelity 
on his left wind their mighty arms about him and 
keep pace with his steady step as he walks his beat. 
He is but a man and he may go mad from sleepless- 
ness ; but he is a soldier, and he will not sleep. The 
morning darkness deepens. It gathers the sleep- 
ing army into its silent shadows as though to 
smother it in gloom. 

Into the silence and the night, as a star falling 
into an abyss, clear, shrill, cheery, insistent, a single 
bugle sings, like a glad prophecy of morning and 
light and life, the rippling notes of the reveille. 
Like an electric thrill the laughing ecstasy runs 
through all the sleeping, slumbering ranks. A 
score of regiments catch up the refrain, and all the 
bugles infantry, battery and flanking troopers 
carol the symphony to the morning. Shouting and 
crowing soldiers swell the chorus with polyphonic 
augmentation ; the shrill tenors of neighing charg- 


ers answer the "sounding of the trumpets, the 
thunder of the captains and the shouting." And 
from all the corrals of the baggage and ammuni- 
tion trains, the much-derided mule, equally impor- 
tant and essential in the success of the campaign 
as his aristocratic half-brother, raises his staccato 
baritone in antiphonal response. The camp, that 
a moment since, lay in such stillness as wrapped the 
ranks of Sennacherib when the Death" Angel 
breathed on the face of the sleeper, is awake. And 
if one closed his eyes to shut out the gleaming 
bayonets and the stacked muskets, and the guns, 
silent and grim, muzzled by their black tampions, 
and only listened, he might think he was in the 
midst of a mob of joyous, care-free, happy school- 
boys out on a vacation lark. For a soldier is a 
man with a boy's heart. The heart of the morning 
on the march sings in the notes of the reveille 
joyous, free, exultant; it is the very ecstasy of 
life ; the thrill of strength ; the glad sense of fear- 
lessness and confidence; a champion's desire to 
match his strength against the courage and prowess 


of a man worth while. On every camp of true- 
hearted soldiers rises "the sun of Austerlitz." 


Straight over the earth hangs the great blazing 
sun, as though he poised in his onward flight for 
just a second, to say, "I want to see the very begin- 
ning of it." He flames down on the long trail of 
yellow dust that stifles the marching columns. The 
songs are hushed, for the feet are tired and the 
throats are parched. The fours are straggled 
across the roads, as the files find the easiest path 
for the route step. Conversation is monosyllabic. 
A soldier barks out a jest with a sting in it, and 
catches a snarl in response. A tired man, with 
a face growing white under the bronze, shakes his 
canteen at his ear, and decides that he isn't thirsty 
enough yet. A trooper comes galloping from the 
front with the official envelope sheathed underneath 
his belt, and is joyously sung and shouted on his 
way along the rough edges of the road by the sar- 
castic infantrymen, momentarily grateful for the 


diversion of his appearance a human target 
against which all their shafts of wit and taunt can 
be launched, with the envy of the soldier with two 
legs in his hereditary jousting with the one who 
glories in six. The trooper is gone. "The tumult 
and the shouting dies." Again the long winding 
road; the yellow dust; the hills, the blazing sun; 
the cloudless sky; the tired men; the silent impa- 
tience over the step that has been quickened appar- 
ently without orders ; the long stretch of marching 
since the last rest; an occasional order barked by 
a line officer, to correct the too disordered forma- 
tion ; over all, the hot stillness of noon. The morn- 
ing breezes died long ago. The air is dead. The 
leaves on the forest trees that line the road swooned 
with the prayer for rain in their last faint whisper 
to the dying zephyr that kissed them in its passing. 
The dust of mortality covers their brave greenery 
the same yellow dust that veils the phantom army 
marching past. 

So far away away in the advance, and far on 
another road so faint and dull that it scarcely 


seems to be a sound, but rather a sensation that 
runs past the unguarded portal of the ear to touch 
the brain the echo of a dream Boom! 

And yet it is deadly clear ; fearfully near. Every 
listless head in the weary ranks is lifted. Question- 
ing eyes answer one another. Every soldier has 
read the message, shouted so far away by a tongue 
of flame between black lips. Unconsciously the 
marching ranks are locked. Instinctively the step 
is quickened. The man with the whitening face 
drains his canteen to the last precious drop. He is 
going to have strength to get to the front with 
the regiment. Then, if he dies, he will die in the 
line. "Chuck- a-chuck !" the very battery wheels 
put a defiant tone in the old monotony of their 
rumbling. "Clippity-clippity !" another galloping 
trooper goes down the column in a cloud of dust, 
but this one is garlanded with cheers, and his face 
lights with a grim smile. "You'll find somebody 
that'll make you holler when you ketch up with 
the cavalry!" floats over his shoulder. "It's his 


deal," laughs a soldier, pulling his belt a buckle- 
hole tighter. Tramp, tramp, tramp. 

A single rifle-shot. Sharp; penetrating; anger 
and surprise in its defiant intonation. A score of 
excited echoes clattering after it from hill and 
forest. A thrill of nervous tension runs through 
the column that closes the ranks in orderly forma- 
tion. Quick terse orders. Absolute discipline in 
every movement. The crooked rail fences on either 
side the road are leveled as by magic as the hands 
of the men touch them. The column double-quicks 
out of the road to right and left. Curtaining 
woods swallow it. The men drop on their faces. 
They are lost from sight. The skirmishers, deploy- 
ing as they run, swarm down the hill slope to the 
front like a nest of angry hornets. A handful of 
shots thrown into the air. They have found the 
pickets. A fitful rain of skirmish firing; a shot 
here; a half dozen; a score; silence; another half- 
dozen shots ; a cheer and a volley : far away ; ring- 
ing in clear and close ; drifting away almost out of 


hearing; off to the right; swinging back to the 
left ; coming in nearer ; more of them, gathering in 
numbers and increasing in their intensity; bat- 
teries feeling the woods ; a long roll of musketry ; 
ringing cheers ; thunders of awakening field-guns 
on right and left; the line leaps to its feet and 
rushes with fixed bayonets to meet the on-coming 
charge ; the yellow clouds have changed to blue and 
gray; sheafs of fire gleaming through the trees; 
sickles of death gathering in the bloody harvest; 
yells of defiance and screams of agony; shouting 
of "the old-fashioned colonels" who ride with their 
men; bayonets gleaming about the smoke-grimed 
muzzles of the guns; fighting men swarming like 
locusts into the embrasures ; saber and bayonet, 
sponge staff and rammer, lunge, thrust, cut and 
crashing blow; men driven out of the embrasures 
and over the parapet like dogs before lions; turn- 
ing again with yelp and snarl, and slashing their 
way back again like fighting bulldogs, holding 
every inch they gain ; hand to throat and knife to 
heart; hurrying reinforcements from all sides rac- 


ing to the crater of smoke and flame; a long wild 
cheer, swelling in fierce exultant cadences, over and 
over and over the reversed guns, like the hounds 
of Acteon, baying at the heels and rending the 
bodies of the masters for whom but late they 
fought; a white flag fluttering like a frightened 
dove amidst smoke and flame, the fury and anguish, 
the hate and terror, the madness and death of the 
hell of passion raging over the sodden earth the 
fort is ours. lo Triumphe! 


Count the dead. Number the hearthstones, 
whereon the flickering home-light, golden with chil- 
dren's fancies and women's dreams, have been 
quenched in agony, heartache and blood. Take 
census of the widows and orphans. Measure the 
yards of crape. Gage the bitter vintage of tears. 
Yes. They have more than we have. It is our 

We won it fairly. We are the best killers. Man 
to man, we can kill more of them than they can 


of us. That establishes the righteousness of any 

The night after the battle isn't so still as the 
night before. The soldiers are so wearied, mind 
and body and soul so tired, they moan a little in 
their sleep. A man babbles in a strange tongue. 
He was the first man in the embrasure, and he is 
hurt in the head. He will die before morning. He 
is talking to his mother, who died in a little Italian 
mountain village when the soldier was a tiny boy 
talking to her in the soft musical tongue she taught 
him. He hasn't spoken a word of it for many 
years. But he is going out of this world of misun- 
derstandings and strife and wars, into the unmeas- 
ured years of peace. Going to God by the way 
of the old home up the winding mountain path, 
past the cool spring in the shadow of the great 
rock, through the door of the little home under the 
trees such a sweet way to heaven. He is soothing 
the deadly pain in his head, just as he soothed all 
his headaches and heartaches twenty years ago, by 
nestling in her caressing arms and leaning his tired 



head against her tender breast. No; he doesn't 
need the chaplain. His mother is comforting him. 
When a man gets to his mother, it isn't very far, 
then, to God. A colonel sits by a camp-fire with 
his face in his hands. The sentinel hears him say, 
"O Christ!" His son was killed at his side, on the 
slope of the fort. The colonel has been trying to 
write the boy's mother. But that is harder, a thou- 
sand times harder than fighting in the death-packed 
embrasures. The torn sheets of paper lying like 
great snow-flakes about his feet are the letters he 
has begun. "My precious wife," "Heart of my 
heart," "My own heart's darling." It's a big price 
to pay for a dirt fort. There is a saying that 
"All's fair in war." But the truth is, nothing is 
fair in war. The winner has to pay for his win- 
nings about as much as the loser pays for his losses. 
And the trouble is, neither one can pay spot cash 
and have the transaction over and done with. The 
paying for a fort goes on as long as a winner or 
loser is left alive heartache and loneliness and 
longing and poverty and yearning and bitterness. 


Takes a long, long time to pay for a common dirt 
fort, fairly won by fair fighting. 

And then, after you've won it, and have been 
paying for it so many years, you haven't got it, 
after all. 


Years after the battle, a journey carried me back 
to the field that was plowed into blood-sodden fur- 
rows by the iron shares of war's fierce husbandry. 
And one evening in May I walked, with my wife 
by my side, out of the little town to show her the 
fort whose name and story I had seen written in 
blood and fire and smoke. I had often told her 
that I could find the place if I were stone blind. 
I knew my way now. This direction from the little 
river so far from the hill this way from the 
stone mill. This is the sloping field, sure enough. 
I remember how my heart pumped itself well-nigh 
to bursting as I ran up the grade, shouting with 
the scanty breath I needed for running. And here, 


at the crest of the slope, was that whirlwind of 
flame and thunder, the Fort. Here under our feet. 
The sun was going down and all the west was 
ruby and amethyst set in a clasp of gold. A red- 
bird was singing a vesper-song that throbbed withi 
love-notes. In the door of the cottage, garlanded 
with vines, a woman was lifting her happy laugh- 
ing face to the lips of a man who, with his coat 
flung over his arm, had just come in from a field. 
And in merry circles, and bewildering mazes, over 
the velvet grasses and the perfumed violets that 
carpeted the sweet earth where the Fort should 
have stood, a group of romping children laughed 
and danced and ran in ever-changing plays, and 
all the world around the old hell-crater was so sweet 
and happy with peace and love and tenderness that 
the heart had to cry because laughter wasn't happy 
enough to speak its joy and gratitude. I held the 
hand of my dear wife close against my heart as she 
nestled a little nearer to my side, and I thanked God 
that I couldn't find the Fort I helped to win. 


It was built to resist plunging solid shot and 
bursting shell and treacherous mine; the storm of 
shouting columns and the patient strategy and dili- 
gence of engineer and sapper. But God God the 
all-loving Father, scattered the soft white flakes of 
snow lighter than drifting down upon it, for a 
few winters. For a few summers he showered upon 
it from the drifting clouds light rain-drops no big- 
ger than a woman's tears. He let the wandering 
winds blow gently over it. The sheep grazed upon 
its slopes. The little children romped and played 
over it. The clinging vines picked at it with their 
tiny fingers. And lo! while the soldier's memory 
yet held the day of its might and strength and 
terror, it was gone. 


"Then the same day at evening" the evening 

of the first Sunday ; only three days after the agony 

of Gethsemane; the terror of Olivet, the storm of 

hate and bigotry on Calvary, the blood and sacri- 



fice, the awful tragedy of the cross, the splendor of 
the resurrection "came Jesus and stood in the 
midst and saith unto them, 'Peace be unto you.' " 

And the horror and the fear and the anguish 
were gone. "Then were the Disciples glad." They 
knew His face by the peace that shone upon it. 
The benediction of his lips rested on their souls. 
"Peace." And the storm was over. To-day, we 
climb the hill outside the gates of the city, and we 
can not find the holy spot whereon they crucified 
Him. We know the storm of warring human pas- 
sions, of anger and bigotry and ignorance that 
raged around His cross. But we can not find the 
spot where it stood. For all the green hill is beauti- 
ful in the blessed tranquillity of the peace that en- 
dures. For love is sweeter than life, and stronger 
than death, and longer than hate. The hand of 
the conqueror and the hand of the vanquished fit 
into each other in the perfect clasp of friendship. 
The flag that waved in triumph and the flag that 
went down in defeat cross their silken folds in 


graceful emblem of restored brotherhood. The 
gleaming plowshare turns the brown furrow over 
the crumbling guns that plowed the field of life 
with death. God's hand has smoothed away slope 
and parapet of the Fort that was won for an hour 
and lost forever.